Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Sametime Quick Tip: Using Multiple Communities

How do Sametime users from different companies interact with each other? One way is through the Sametime Gateway, which allows for the exchange of presence status and simple text messages. But what if the users need more? What if they need voice or video chats? Or direct file transfers?  Or they want to take advantage of the new drag & drop meeting invitations coming in 8.5? In that case, they might want to consider using Sametime's Multiple Community support.

To oversimplify, think of a Community as all the Sametime users in an enterprise. (The name comes from the fact that the Sametime presence & chat engine is called the Community Server.) With the right permissions, the Connect client can log into multiple Community Servers. For example, I use this to simultaneously collaborate with colleagues inside IBM (through our internal community) and outside IBM through sites like LotusLive, Greenhouse and Bleed Yellow. In addition, a few customers and partners have invited me to join their communities directly.

The nice thing about Sametime is that the Connect client provides a single, integrated view of all of your contacts across communities while giving you complete control over how you appear on each server. For example, the screen shot below shows that I have connections to five communities and am logged into four. I can log in and out of each one individually, as well as update my availability and set a custom status message for each. Or, I can use the "All" popup menu to control them as a group. Each community can also have a different icon, which will appear next to each user's name in the contact list or in the chat window. This way, you can always tell where someone is from. Of course, you can import custom icons, if you like.

Image:Sametime Quick Tip: Using Multiple Communities

Adding a new Sametime Community is fairly straightforward. Click on the "New" button (just below the "All" button in the screen shot) and select "New Server Community...". You'll need the following information:

  • the server URL & port
  • your user name / password or authentication server & type
  • the connection type (which is usually the default)

That's it. Give the Community a meaningful name, choose an icon (if you like) and you're done. You can edit and remove Communities from the Sametime Preferences panel.

One word of caution: Each individual who can connect to your Community Server counts as a user and needs to be appropriately licensed. Contact your sales or support representative to discuss the most appropriate licensing structure for your needs. And remember, if you have Sametime Standard or Advanced, you can always use the included Gateway to share presence and simple text chats with other Sametime Communities, as well as most public IM systems.