IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting now available for purchase

This is an interesting announcement, and I guess is not unexpected, but I see it as being significant for a number of reasons. First the summary:

IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting delivers conferencing service
Overview
IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting, an Internet-delivered Web conferencing service, is especially useful outside the boundaries of a corporate firewall. It offers a full-function Web conference capability without the management of on-site software deployment and support. With integrated voice conferencing features, the Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting service is perfect for any meeting where you want to enhance the dialog by sharing a document, presentation, or application. Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting Web conferencing provides key features such as presentation and application sharing, annotation, and hand-raising. The Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting service also goes beyond basic Web conferencing and provides advanced features such as recording, polling, question and answer session management.

Additional benefits:

  • Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting Web conferencing service makes it easy for companies of any size to collaborate outside the corporate intranet – accessible any time from anywhere.
  • Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting Web conferencing is intuitively designed and incredibly easy to access and use.


At a Glance
IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte is a software as a service Web conferencing offering that is easy-to-use, full featured and designed for users of all skill levels. Whether you need to present to one client, a sales force or hundreds of people – no worries, the Lotus Sametime Unyte service has what you need. So even the smallest companies can run online meetings – with no downloads, no training and no need to call IT for help.

Features include:

  • Presentation, application, and desktop sharing
  • SSL encryption
  • Multiple presenters
  • Polling
  • Chat, annotation
  • Recording and playback
  • Audiocasting
  • Remote control
  • Roster controls
  • Question and Answer Moderator

Planned availability dates:

The IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting service offering is available for ordering on April 15, 2008

Now the first really interesting point (emphasis mine):

Product Positioning

  • Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting has an intuitive, icon-based user interface, that is very clean and uncluttered.
  • Users can quickly gain confidence in their ability to manage online meetings because the ease-of-use service is not invasive to the meeting participant’s PC. It requires no special downloads or hardware
  • Users inside and outside the firewall can participate in Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting with equal ease.
  • Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting service is specifically designed to be packaged by Business Partners.

Not quite sure what IBM means by this, apart from the fact that in most cases the service will be purchased through BPs.  I assume that they are looking for BPs to include use of this service in larger managed service type offerings.  It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

Next:

Statement of general direction

IBM currently plans to include tighter integration between Lotus Sametime software and the Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting service. In an upcoming version of Lotus Sametime software, IBM currently plans to include a link to Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting for those customers wanting to use the service for reservationless meetings. IBM plans to continue to integrate the Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting offering with other Lotus products through onramps including Lotus Notes calendar integration.

Again, not unexpected, but great to see it in writing.  IBM plans further integration between the SaaS Unyte offering and the corporate Sametime systems out there.  Interesting possibilities…

Lastly, licensing:


Passport Advantage program licenses

Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting

Part description                                         Part
                                                       number

IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting
Sametime Unyte Mtg Host 14 prtcpnts Init Fixed Trm Use   D042XLL
12 Mo
Sametime Unyte Mtg Host 14 prtcpnts Sub Fixed Trm Use    E04TTLL
12 Mo
Sametime Unyte Mtg Host 24 prtcpnts Init Fixed Trm Use   D042YLL
12 Mo
Sametime Unyte Mtg Host 24 prtcpnts Sub Fixed Trm Use    E04TULL
12 Mo
Sametime Unyte Mtg Host 999 prtcpnts Init Fixed Trm Use  D042ULL
12 Mo
Sametime Unyte Mtg Host 999 prtcpnts Sub Fixed Trm Use   E04TSLL
12 Mo

So, Unyte will be available as packages of up to 14 participants (per conference), up to 24 participants or up to 999 participants.  Those are interesting numbers, and I’m not sure how they’ll relate to the sizes of company that I deal with here in the UK.  I would have thought that very few organisations will opt for the 24 user pack – either 14 will be more than enough, or else they’ll need far more than 24.  Also new (at least to me) is using Passport Advantage for fixed term services offerings.  This suggests that there is no kind of reward for loyalty or renewing – you pay the same per year whether you are starting with the service or renewing.

So all in all, great that the offering is there – I can see it being very popular with mid-market customers.  We await the pricing which will obviously be very important.  I’ll let you know as soon as I see it.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!