Siemens Unveils Project Ansible for Improved UC

The platform, which will start trials later this year, is designed to bring the disparate collaboration tools under a single, customizable space.

Siemens Enterprise Communication officials are working on a platform called Project Ansible that they say will make unified communications much more unified.

Company executives began talking about Ansible last month during a meeting with analysts, and on July 16 gave the first public glimpse of the platform that is designed to enable organizations to more seamlessly unify voice, video, social communication, search and business applications. Ansible will make it easier and less time-consuming for users to do everything from looking for information in multiple sources to conducting live and virtual meetings to generating transcripts.

The platform is an answer to a unified communications (UC) market that offers multiple ways to collaborate, but makes it difficult to manage, integrate and leverage those collaboration tools, according to Torsten Raak, head of corporate marketing at Siemens.

“The promise of unified communications has been greatly unfulfilled," Raak told eWEEK. "The collaboration [market] is fragmented and has become a complex mess."

Ansible will give organizations a central place through which to view and manage their collaboration tools—from video and audio to content, applications and social media—across a company, with workgroups and in the cloud, and to improve the overall user experience, according to officials. Right now, even though there are a lot of collaboration, conferencing, social and content management tools and communications applications, they tend to be segmented and force users to do as much integration as possible on their own.

Zeus Kerravala, principle analyst with ZK Research, has argued in the past that UC is anything but unified. Ansible promises to offer users a more streamlined way to leverage the various communications tools offered to them, and to increase employee productivity and satisfaction.

"Ansible can almost be thought of as 'unified' unified communications, as it brings together all collaborative applications under a flexible "canvas' where each user can customize what's on their screen," Kerravala said in a July 16 post on the No Jitter blog site. "The software aggregates any application, including traditional communications tools, social software, business applications and analytic tools. ... From what I've seen, Ansible provides a highly flexible and customizable collaboration tool where workers have access to all of the data and tools they might need.”

Siemens engineers have been working on Ansible for more than two years, in collaboration with Frog Design, a product strategy and design consultancy. Officials want to give current and potential customers, as well as partners, an early peek at Ansible. Limited customer trials of the platform are planned for the end of 2013 and will be generally available later in 2014.