Lotus Development is getting closer to adding instantaneous
communication to its groupware product line.
At Comdex/Fall 98 today, the IBM
subsidiary said the first beta testing for its real-time product line will
begin this week.
Lotus Sametime is a family of real-time
communication and collaboration products that allow people to find others on
the Web, regardless of their location, and to instantly communicate and
share documents or other visual information, the company said.
The real-time client/server
package can be purchased as a standalone, or as a complement to Lotus Notes
and Domino 4.6, and 5. No pricing was made available.
In a keynote address at Comdex today,
Lotus CEO Jeff Papows described the new ability as part of a broader
asynchronous to synchronous, or real time, communications.
"We will move by end of the year to concurrent model of synchronous
information," Papows said.
"By the beginning of next year, because of the propensity of multimedia PCs
on the desktop in corporations, we will be able to do voice," he predicted.
He said the next step will be to share objects over a network.
Sametime Connect Client software, Sametime Server, and support for
third-party will make up the new product offering from the Cambridge,
Massachusetts-based software maker.
Lotus said it developed Sametime with a focus on providing a real-time
experience that flexibly and naturally leads users through spontaneous,
information-sharing sessions. Sametime supports Lotus' new Knowledge
Management strategy by facilitating people working in teams, networks, and it "communities" across the enterprise.
Two key acquisitions
Sametime's building blocks come from not only Cambridge, but south of the
Mason Dixon and the Middle East as well.
As reported earlier , backed by deep IBM
pockets, Lotus purchased real-time software vendors Lexington,
Kentucky-based DataBeam and Israeli-based Ubique. Under the terms of the
agreement, the companies will be acquired by IBM and will become part of
Lotus Communications Products Division. Financial terms of the agreement
were not disclosed.
Sametime is the result of the acquisitions, and the beta launch of the
product today continues the company's efforts to bring real-time features to
its email and collaboration packages. It combined application and data
sharing from DataBeam and interaction tools such as chat, "buddy" awareness,
and instant messaging from Ubique with its Notes and Domino groupware in
future releases, beginning later this year.
Lotus said the real-time features will be supported by joint work with
industry partners, such as America
Online. AOL was one of the investors from which Ubique will be
Full set of real-time features
Sametime's features are based on the fundamental characteristics of
real-time collaboration, which include awareness, conversation, and shared
Conversation features within Sametime allows users to send instant messages
and engage in online co-workers in a dialogue. Once users are aware of a
colleagues' availability to talk, they can easily start a conversation using
instant text messages or a chat session involving many people.
Shared objects technology enables users to conduct online meetings and share
live documents or applications with workgroups using clients such as Microsoft NetMeeting, Web browser or
Lotus Notes. As a conversation progresses, shared object capabilities in
Sametime allow users to move among application-sharing within a single
session. Users can share applications, like word processing, spreadsheets
and project management software, without requiring others to have that
Sametime today is available for public beta for download off of the Sametime
English, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese,
Korean, and Spanish versions will ship November 20. The final Sametime 1.0
product family is scheduled to ship by the end of the year and feature
support for Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish languages.
News.com's Tim Clark contributed to this report.