IBM Licenses Tech from Siemens for Unified Communications
September 4, 2007 Timothy Prickett Morgan
While Web 2.0 is the buzzword of the day in application development, unified communication is all the talk in the messaging and groupware space. And IBM, Microsoft, and Cisco Systems are girding their loins to do battle over a real set of communication technologies and their integration. This stands in stark contrast with the academic distinction between one kind of Web computing and another–what people seem to be talking about when they say Web 2.0–that is, at its root, utter poppycock.
Unified communications–bringing voice, email, fax, instant messaging, chat, video, and other forms of communication used by businesses today under a set of unified software with open APIs to allow interoperability and seamless flow of those different kinds of messages–is as logical as it is inevitable. And no one vendor has all of the pieces, and that includes IBM. Which is why IBM bought Web conferencing company WebDialogs two weeks ago to bolster its Sametime messaging offshoot of the Notes/Domino groupware stack. The desire to build out all of the pieces in a unified communications offering is also why IBM last week announced a partnership with Germany telecom equipment and computer supplier Siemens.
Specifically, IBM has stuck up an OEM licensing agreement with the Siemens Enterprise Communications division of the German conglomerate, which is based in Boca Raton, Florida. Under that deal, IBM will license parts of Siemens’ OpenScape unified communications software, which links into new Voice over IP (VoIP) and traditional Private Branch Exchange (PBX) telephone systems, and embed that technology into its Sametime messaging product. Sametime is a keystone in IBM’s “unified telephony” effort, taking over the phone part, in essence.
Siemens Enterprise Communications has another product, called HiPath, that allows the convergence of PBX, LAN, and mobile phone traffic into a single, integrated whole; what this means is that your company gives you one phone number and one mailbox, and no matter how you are linking in, you can make a call or get your email. HiPath was not part of the IBM OEM deal.
The terms and conditions of the OEM arrangement were not disclosed. But Siemens is obviously keen to see its software being used by the 125 million Lotus Notes/Domino users out there in the world, who are always being encouraged to add on Sametime messaging, and it is clearly going to make some money out of the deal.