IBM/Lotus sharpens weapon for unified communications battle

Sametime platform to be armed with collaboration, social networking, conferencing and messaging software, and telephony to take on rivals.

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But there is still work to be done as the UC battle heats up on the vendor side and user's wrestle with project goals and budgets.

Lazar says IBM/Lotus has to show enough added capabilities and differences vs. Microsoft to get IT's ear.

"They are struggling with that," he says. "There is still some lack of awareness of IBM's offerings and what they can do."

Burton's Gotta says Morse and his leadership team are the best among the Lotus product groups, but he wants to see examples of Sametime sales into Microsoft shops since the release of OCS 2007.

He says the company needs to clearly differentiate Sametime Unyte hosted conferencing services and Sametime on-premises conferencing and flesh out its hosted business application services code-named Bluehouse.

IBM/Lotus' Morse says one-third of new Sametime customers last year were Microsoft Exchange shops that did not have Notes installed.

"A key part of the strategy is to get into those shops," he said. "Customers that choose Sametime over OCS choose it based on the ability to integrate with what they have invested in as far as telephony, because it has been on the market for 10 years, it scales and they feel more secure," he says.

If Morse can convince IT of that, then IBM/Lotus has a shot at claiming a handsome stake in the UC market.

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