Features and Functionality In most cases, functionality was

Features and Functionality In most cases, functionality was more important than cost for the enterprise customers I worked with who decided to move away from the IBM Sametime client to the Microsoft UC platform. The key capabilities described in this section center around the Communicator client and the integrated UC platform that led to these decisions. Understanding Microsoft s Integrated Platform An integrated communication and collaboration platform was the leading reason enterprise customers began moving away from IBM to Microsoft. After all, Microsoft leverages the dominating enterprise Office system, which is installed on hundreds of millions of desktops around the world. The majority of large enterprises have some version of Microsoft Office deployed throughout their enterprise, so the decision to move to technologies in the Office system suite, including SharePoint, Live Communications Server, Live Meeting, and Communicator, is an easy one. Regarding Instant Messaging specifically, Microsoft leverages existing Office applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint by building integrated communication through Communicator, offering users a totally integrated experience on the desktop. Because Instant Messaging is the most popular communication tool today, giving users the ability to leverage a client within familiar applications was a major advantage for Microsoft in retaining or gaining customers. In contrast, IBM provides little or no integration with desktop business applications. It would have been wise for IBM to have built integration into Office or even their own portal product, QuickPlace, but the ingenuity was not there, and there is little current evidence that there ever will be integration provided. Even from a directory standpoint, Sametime is stand-alone. The IBM Sametime directory is a silo and is supported separately by Sametime administrators. Microsoft took the same desktop integrated approach with the Live Communications Server directory by leveraging Microsoft Active Directory. This strategy, as with all Microsoft products, capitalizes on the Active Directory infrastructure, which consists of updated user directory information that Microsoft applications can leverage. Even better, it is already maintained and supported. Access Anytime, Anywhere Providing users with the capability to access their corporate messaging infrastructure without the requirement of Virtual Private Network (VPN) connectivity has been a strategy with not only the Microsoft UC platform, but also with Exchange e-mail and remote portal access to Microsoft SharePoint. This flexibility gives users anywhere, anytime flexibility, enabling system access regardless of location. This strategy has been important to large enterprises that use third-party contractors and engage in secure transactions with business partners that are not members of the internal infrastructure. Giving these parties external access without requiring the use of VPN connectivity, obtaining secure certificates, and so on, is a cost and time saving solution that can affect hundreds and even thousands of users. IBM Sametime provides no remote access solution without the use of a VPN connection. Integrated Public Instant Messaging Connectivity Microsoft s Public Instant Messaging Connectivity (PIC) service is an extremely popular solution, and next to the integrated platform scenario, it is the second largest reason for customer attraction to the Microsoft UC platform over IBM. Most enterprises, especially within the financial arena, consist of users 44 Chapter 2
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