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IBM and Cisco announce UC² Client Platform and product integration roadmap


I'm writing this from the Cisco General Session at VoiceCon, where Charlie Giancarlo, Cisco's Sr Vice President and Chief Development Officer just announced some very exciting initiatives between IBM and Cisco.  (And yes, this is why you haven't heard much from me lately.)

There are two main pieces to the announcement.  One is the UC² Client Platform, which is a platform built on technologies such as Eclipse and OSGi that developers can use to easily include communications and collaboration capabilities in their solutions.  This client platform is based on an open set of APIs, including a subset of Lotus Sametime capabilities (based on Lotus Expeditor) and communication APIs provided by Cisco, and will be available to developers at no charge (vendors who wish to redistribute the runtime can license it from IBM, and support options are available, as well).  We will also be making available compatibility test kits, as well as training, enablement and certification programs for developers.  We expect the UC² Client Platform to be available in the 2nd half of the year.

Cisco will be building future versions of their Cisco Unified Personal Communicator (CUPC) on this UC² Client Platform, and since Sametime is already built on it, this means that developers will be able to build applications that can integrate with Sametime, CUPC, or any other UC²-compliant solution.

The other piece of the announcement is a joint product roadmap and expanded go-to-market activities for IBM and Cisco.  We announced that Cisco will be reselling Lotus Sametime to companies that want capabilities that go beyond what it is going to offer in its CUPC client, and IBM will be reselling Cisco's products.  In addition, we announced a joint roadmap that includes the following:

  • Click to Call and Voice Mail integration (available second quarter 2007) will allow Lotus Sametime users to place phone calls to contacts in their contact list through Cisco Unified Call Manager, and view and play Cisco Unity voice messages directly from their Lotus Sametime 7.5.1 client.  (These capabilities are available today through implementation services by IBM Global Technology Services)  
  • A new joint offering (targeted for the second half of 2007) will add offer a combination of capabilities from Lotus Sametime and Cisco, including a soft phone, hard phone control, call history, conferencing, video telephony and the ability to see federated presence information.  Both IBM and Cisco will be taking this new solution to market
  • Cisco Unified MeetingPlace and Lotus Sametime and Lotus Notes integration will enable Lotus Sametime Web conference integration with and control of Cisco Unified MeetingPlace audio and video conferences, and click-to-conference capabilities from Lotus Sametime and Lotus Notes.  

In addition to the software side of things, IBM's Global Technology Services will expand its Converged Communications portfolio of standardized product services for unified communications and collaboration to continue to help customers adopt and deploy these solutions.  

It is important to note that the client platform is an open play, and not something exclusive to IBM and Cisco.  The APIs in the UC² Client Platform will invoke "back-end" services (such as IM, presence, telephony, etc). and these services will be vendor agnostic.  For example, an ISV would not need to worry about whose IP-PBX they are connecting to when they "click to call" or "click to conference."  And as we laid out at Lotusphere, a key element of our strategy is to work with companies who are running multi-vendor environments; this announcement in no way represents a shift from that strategy.

So, what does this all mean for you?  It means that we will see an acceleration in applications that can be deployed in your desktop environment.  It means that it will be that much easier for you and your coworkers and employees to see the benefits from unified communications and collaboration.  It means that you can take complexity and cost out of your environment.

There is a lot more detail on this announcement available online at: http://www.ibm.com/lotus/UC2.  Please go take a look.  I'll be posting updated links to the press coverage as the day progresses.

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