IBM Sametime Unified Telephony Coming Soon


During his keynote presentation at VoiceCon Orlando, Bob Picciano, IBM software general manager, said IBM Sametime Unified Telephony will be available sometime in July 2009.

Sametime Unified Telephony is a middleware solution that delivers VoIP and unified communications capabilities. It also ties together systems from several vendors and IBM technology partners to allow call routing based on location, presence status and role, among a host of other attributes from business applications.

The software, Picciano said, helps users make smarter and faster decisions by putting them in contact with the right people at the right time on the right device. The software lets users see who is on the phone before they make a call and automatically sends incoming calls to the best device based on presence status, location and preferences. It can also transform a PC into a virtual telephone, letting users talk using VoIP directly from the desktop.

Another feature of Sametime Unified Telephony is click-to-call, which lets users click on a person's name to start a voice conversation, IM chat or video conferences. Users can drag and drop names from an IM client to add a participant to a conference call. Calls can also be transferred to a mobile device from an office phone with one click, without interrupting the call.

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Sametime Unified Telephony was expected to be available in the second half of 2008, but has been delayed.

"It's now time for smarter collaboration," Picciano said, later adding that Unified Telephony's openness proves that IBM is "not building pointless, useless bridges to nowhere."

Along with unveiling a release date for the software, IBM on Wednesday also launched a host of new services designed to help customers get up to speed with Sametime Unified Telephony. IBM Converged Communications Services for Sametime Unified Telephony will offer strategy, assessment, architecture, design, integration, implementation and maintenance services for the telephony solution.

Laurence Guihard-Joly, vice president of integrated communications services for IBM global technology services said the new suite of services will help customers build unified communications environments using their existing VoIP and legacy gear, ultimately reducing costs and protecting their investments.

"We can bring it to market quickly," she said. Currently, the services are going to be delivered through IBM, Guihard-Joly added, but will open up more opportunities for VARs as they support communication enablement of applications and launch their own services around Sametime Unified Telephony.

IBM on Wednesday also launched an interoperability validation program around Sametime Unified Telephony, which lets IBM and its partners test how products integrate with the system. Inaugural participants in the program include IP PBX vendors Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco Systems, NEC, Nortel Networks, Mitel and Siemens; media gateway vendors Dialogic and NET; and voice quality providers GN Netcom, Plantronics, Polycom and Psytechnics.

Picciano said the release of Sametime Unified Telephony and its proven interoperability with partners will help companies reduce costs and boost productivity. He said IBM internally saved $17 million in telephony costs just by using IM and conferencing applications and was able to cut $105 million on travel by using virtual meetings and other unified communications tools.

Picciano said current unified communications and VoIP decisions are being fueled by the bottom line, as companies look to save cash while also preserving the investment they made in VoIP technology. Sametime Unified Telephony will make that happen, he said, while unlocking the ability to connect to the right person at the right time on the right device, regardless of location.

"When you talk about working smarter, there's not a lot of room for theology, there's not a lot of room for tree-hugging," he said.