Duking it out with Microsoft, Cisco, Even Skype
The new technologies are a sign of heady times for the flourishing unified communications market, where IBM is duking it out with Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and even free services such as Skype. IBM currently has 20 million SameTime users after shipping 9 million users clients in 2007, according to Morse. In unified communications, as in many high-tech markets, vendors have to cooperate to be competitive.Lori McLean, general manager of the Nortel/IBM alliance for Nortel, which has a strong unified communication relationship with Microsoft, summed up the competition in the unified communications thusly: "Solutions that we bring to our customers should be about solutions that our companies need. Nortel likes to maximize its addressable market space." Knowing that some customers will choose Microsoft, Skype or Cisco over IBM doesn't scare Big Blue at all, Morse added. "Open standards are about interoperating and communicating with many systems out there," Morse said. "While we would like to be the messaging system across the entire world it's not going to happen."
Accordingly, IBM has arranged to have Cisco, Nortel and CareStream Health resell SameTime to expand the software's reach. Cisco will offer the software through its unified communications channel of 1,200 companies; Nortel will sell and integrate SameTime in its enterprise unified communications suite; and CareStream will integrate and sell the software with its software for radiology departments.