IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Calls on InterCall to Fight Cisco WebEx

IBM rolls out Lotus Sametime Unyte 8.2 with the help of conferencing software giant InterCall. The move is designed to give IBM more equal footing with SAAS messaging and collaboration software products such as Cisco WebEx and Microsoft Office Live Meeting. IBM needs to offer a SAAS Web conferencing option to its customers, many of whom are moving to cloud computing.

IBM made good on its October promise to roll out a new version of its hosted Web conferencing service, but it's also getting marketing and sales help from conferencing services giant InterCall to reach more customers Dec. 9.
Users can subscribe to the new Lotus Sametime Unyte, Version 8.2, which lets workers initiate Web conferencing sessions through their Web browsers. Users use the application to see and hear each other through remote computer or TV screens to conduct business meetings.
Such collaboration applications are vital to helping companies cut down on traveling to meetings, a welcome reprieve during this recession. Colleagues separated by miles and oceans can work together without missing a beat.
While traditional Web conferencing solutions, such as IBM's original Lotus Sametime, are hosted on the purchasing customer's servers, IBM supports Sametime Unyte on its own servers. This saves customers the cost of installing the app on-premises, which saps up the space on their hardware.
Ideally, this convenience will enable IBM to be more competitive with SAAS (software-as-a-service) Web conferencing application market leaders such as Cisco's WebEx and Microsoft.
That's a big reason why IBM struck a deal with InterCall, which will begin offering Sametime Unyte to its 400,000 individual conference leaders in more than 40,000 organizations worldwide Jan. 1.
An IBM spokesperson noted that InterCall also distributes Cisco WebEx, "so the InterCall engagement with IBM validates Lotus Sametime Unyte. InterCall's distribution of Sametime Unyte puts it on a level playing field with Cisco WebEx."
Perhaps this will be true in a few years, if the app is solid and IBM is skilled at sales coups. Currently, Cisco WebEx blows away what is an extremely crowded field of collaboration software makers that provide Web conferencing.
Gartner's 2007 survey of the Web conferencing software sector found that WebEx led the market with a 35.9 percent market share, followed by Microsoft Office Live Meetings at a distant 10.9 percent and IBM's on-premises Lotus Sametime solution, with 8.6 percent.
As previously reported by eWEEK, Sametime Unyte 8.2 includes integration between IBM's Lotus Notes e-mail client and the Lotus Sametime instant message client, allowing users working by e-mail or instant message to join a Web conference with one mouse click.
The app also includes a participant waiting room to gather attendees before the call, as well as better alerts for meeting organizers. In addition, the software enables publishing of PDF and ODF files (so it can work with IBM's Lotus Symphony productivity suite), and supports Firefox 3.0 Web browsers.
To accommodate international users, Sametime Unyte is now available in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Brazilian Portuguese, as well as English.
Users can subscribe to use Sametime Unyte free for a 14-day trial, then pay $48 per month for unlimited meetings at up to 15 users per meeting, or $75 per month for unlimited use up to 25 users per meeting. Businesses can also license the application for 999 users per meeting for $99 per month.