IBM on Monday announced a slew of new tools designed to let its commercial E-mail and collaboration applications connect with popular instant messaging products from major Internet vendors and allow users of its software to make phone calls over the Internet.
In an effort to maintain the relevancy of its pricey enterprise desktop software in a computing world that is becoming increasingly open, mobile and ad hoc, IBM says it's working to let users of its Lotus and Domino products connect with IM tools from Yahoo, AOL and Google. The connections will occur through a secure, real-time gateway based on Session Initiation Protocol. IBM says the technology will be available later this year.
Among the applications IBM foresees: members of a corporate marketing department could conduct instant polls with thousands of IM-using customers around the world without compromising the security of their corporate network. IBM also plans to make its Lotus Sametime IM tools available to Linux users and users of Apple's Tiger operating system with an eye to broadening its appeal.
IBM is also looking to cash in on the growing use of voice-based Internet communications in a bid to keep up with eBay's Skype and other VoIP providers. The company says it's teaming with Siemens to offer Internet voice calls launched directly from Lotus and Domino software. The applications will include Siemens' HiPath software-based switching technology to enable the calls. Beyond basic calling features, IBM also plans to offer speech-enabled access to calendars, directories and conference services in future versions of the software.