Figure 2-1 The following table provides a matrix

Understanding the User Interface Deploying an easy to use and attractive communications client to your users is critical. Not only do users desire a client application that works, but Instant Messaging users have matured and expect a plethora of features within their IM clients. Both IBM and Microsoft provide an intuitive client, but there are some major differences between the two in terms of usability and features available directly within the client. With Microsoft Office Communicator, integration with the Office system has been built in. Conveniences such as presence notification, updating your status as In a Meeting, occur automatically if your Outlook calendar has you scheduled in a meeting. You can also e-mail a contact directly from Communicator in a one-touch manner. These conveniences create a better user experience as well as an addictive user base, which has led to the recent choice of IM over e-mail for electronic communication. Communicator also provides one-touch launching of video and voice communications, enabling you to use the Communicator client as a digital phone to receive, forward, or provide advanced voice communications. Other convenient features include the Address Book service, which provides users with the capability to search for contacts that are not in their buddy list to view presence status and contact users immediately. These solutions are non-existent in IBM s Sametime client. Simple conveniences such as the Communicator s presence awareness, are color coded like a stoplight to assist with the visibility of a contact s presence when they are away, busy, in a meeting, etc. The IBM Sametime client presentation of a user s status is in accordance with its other features, i.e., they are proprietary in nature. A user must become acquainted with its symbols to recognize the status of a contact. Figure 2-2 compares the Microsoft Office Communicator and IBM Sametime clients. Understanding Telephony and VoIP Integration Of the two solutions, the Microsoft UC platform is the only solution that provides Private Branch Exchange (PBX) and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) functionality. IBM has not made any telephony investments to create additional integrated components to its Sametime solution. With the Microsoft UC solution, enterprise users can utilize their Office Communicator clients as a phone to contact colleagues, as well as a call manager to route inbound calls or to apply rules to calls. Figure 2-3 shows a sample of the Communicator telephony features available out of the box. Understanding the Development Platform While most enterprises are interested in providing a real-time, collaborative platform for their users, they are also interested in providing a solution to build applications that leverage real-time technologies to integrate their line of business applications. Two enterprise customers that I have worked with were analyzing both IBM Sametime and Microsoft Live Communications Server in an effort to provide realtime applications for their financial trading departments, while several others were exploring better solutions for call center functionality. Each of these customers decided on the Microsoft UC solution due to the open-source capabilities that Microsoft provides with the available server application programming interfaces (APIs). 48 Chapter 2
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