IBM Sametime 9 Release Date is September 20
IBM Sametime, the company's real time communications system is ready for a big update, and September 20 is the announced release date for what looks to be a more social Sametime version 9.

IBM Offers Cloud Beta for Sametime

Back in June, IBM offered a cloud based beta version of Sametime 9, a company first. That means the company wanted to get all the bugs out before launch, but it also clearly wanted to build up some fanfare over the launch. Having a dedicated playground for customers to check out a new product is something IBM could be doing more of in the future as it tries to connect more deeply with customers.

Sametime is a conferencing app that includes video, multi party audio calls, mobile access, document and screen sharing, and presence. IBM is rolling out an updated interface for Sametime 9, and adding video presence. That means people can tell at a glance if someone is available for a video chat, a feature already widely available in other systems.

Sametime Complete to Combine Communicate and Conference

Sametme Communicate is the IBM tool of choice for individual communications, and Conference is for multi party collaboration. Both will still be offered separately, but will also now be offered as Sametime Complete, a bundle that also offers a few extra features.

Communicate would be the tool of choice for many, and it offers standard features like instant messaging, file sharing, chat history with time and date stamps, and the ability to search a corporate directory, among other things. 

Conference is just that, a virtual conference room in a browser based environment that can connect to partner plugins and integrate with other video conferencing systems. Sametime Complete will combine the two, and add in the ability to share a screen or app right from a chat window. Additionally, with a tool called Sametime Connect, it would be possible to invite people to a meeting simply by dragging a name from a contact list.

The emphasis on this update is all about social business, Melanie Turek, a Frost & Sullivan researcher wrote in a blog post. IBM has been ringing the social bell for a long time now, Turek noted, but it's good to see the ethos now coming to an IBM staple like unified communications.

IBM Sametime can't compete with Cisco head to head or with Microsoft on the voice side, she also noted, so putting it in the context of collaboration makes more sense. We agree on the collaboration point, because we already know how much fun it is to do heavy collaboration in SharePoint. 

Sametime 9 will be made available to IBM customers on September 20, and it's also hosting a Webinar September 18 to go through all the changes.