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Volume 10, Number 1 -- January 5, 2010

IBM Delivers Better Online Meeting Experience with Sametime 8.5

Published: January 5, 2010

by Alex Woodie

Organizations that use IBM's Lotus Sametime software for real-time communication and collaboration will find several new features with version 8.5, which became available in late December. Notably, the online meeting portion of the software has been enhanced, the audio should sound better thanks to updated codecs, and there are updated Sametime browser-based clients for iPhone, Blackbettery, and Windows Mobile smart phones.

Lotus Sametime is IBM's entry into the "unified communications" software category for sharing voice, video, and data. The product delivers several ways that users can communicate in real-time, including via the product's instant messaging (IM) client or through voice over IP (VoIP) telephony. Sametime also includes audio and video conferencing software.

Sametime version 8.5 brings several enhancements for online meetings. For starters, meeting rooms are now reservation-less, thereby allowing users to create them on-the-fly, or re-use a meeting room that has already been set up. IBM added a new Web browser-based meeting "experience" that does not require any software to be downloaded. Otherwise, people can join meetings fairly easily with version 8.5 through the Connect Client, which is another enhancement and eliminates the need to remember passwords, IBM says.

Uploading data for meetings in Sametime has been improved, and can now be completed with drag-and-drop actions. Lastly, updated audio and video codecs, and compliance with Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standards for audio and video conferencing, will yield higher quality sound and images, IBM says.

On the mobile front, a new no-download browser-based chat client will make it easier to deploy Sametime-based IM to a greater number of users, Big Blue says. Similarly, iPhone users will be able to access Sametime's chat function thanks to a new optimized browser-client for the iPhone. IBM also modified its Windows Mobile client to deliver "a more refined mobile experience," while support for the Blackberry Storm was also added.

Sametime developers will fly out of their seats when they learn about the new support for representational state transfer, or REST-based Web 2.0 APIs. Put into standard English, the new REST-based API--in concert with the new no-download browser-based client that's used throughout version 8.5--will allows developers to use standard AJAX tools to embed Sametime into Web applications and Web portals. Other areas of improvement in version 8.5 include setup, management, and licensing.

There are five different Sametime clients, including the standard Windows-based Sametime Connect client; the Web browser client; the mobile phone client; the Notes-integrated client; and the Outlook-integrated client. Various Sametime server components, such as the Sametime Proxy Server, the Sametime Meeting Server, and the Community Server, deploy on the IBM i OS server, in addition to Windows, Linux, AIX, and Solaris servers; other server components, such as Media Manager Server, require Windows or Linux.

Version 8.5 is available now. For more information, see United States Software Announcement 209-392 (in PDF) or IBM's main Sametime Web page at www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/sametime/.


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