IBM Plans IM Cross Talk
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Leaving Microsoft out in the cold, IBM has announced it plans to deliver an instant messaging platform that will link AOL, Yahoo! and Google messaging clients with its Lotus Samtetime collaboration platform.

Slated for release mid-year the new version of Sametime will integrate audio and Video conferencing. In addition, IBM and Google announced they plan to work to connect Sametime and Google Talk users.

The integration will be handled via a new SIP-based Real-Time Collaboration Gateway that is currently planned to be available later this year. IBM is embedding this capability in Lotus Sametime, without additional charge to customers. This broad, out-of-the-box connectivity with the industry’s leading consumer IM providers extends the business benefits of Lotus Sametime and gives IBM customers a security-rich way to collaborate with millions of public instant messaging users worldwide.

IBM is also working with the likes of Avaya, Nortel, Polycom, Premiere Global Services, Siemens, and Tandberg to deliver “click to call” support in its PC-based collaboration tools, though no details of a release schedule were offered.

There are already more than 15 million Lotus Sametime users. The 7.5 release will add more than 100 new features and a new interface on top of the integration capabilities. Big Blue is beefing up the security and privacy features, and adding support for Mac OS X and Linux, but also developing the IM client into an application platform.

Sametime will be the first major enterprise instant messaging client built on the Eclipse open source framework, says the company. By leveraging Eclipse, Lotus Sametime users get access to new “plug-in” capabilities, such as audio/video extensions, location-oriented or “mapping” applications and corporate calendar integration.

Conferencing capabilities, with support for multiple presenters will make it easier to join and manage online meeting, while new social networking features, based on the Eclipse platform will add instant polls, context-sensitive chat rooms and the automated capture and storage of ad-hoc information that can be searched for future reference.