IBM has joined forces with Siemens Enterprise Communications to turn its IBM Lotus Sametime software into a product family that will include new telephony integration software.
The move comes as Microsoft moves to a 16 October launch for its much hyped Office Communications Server 2007 for larger enterprises and plans to sell unified comms as an on-demand service offering to SMEs.
Unified communications utilise voice, video and data and a multitude of applications to allow employees to communicate more easily with a range of endpoint devices.
IBM said the bolstered Lotus Sametime product family will make it easier for a company to offer its employees a unified communications environment that delivers essential capabilities to users and simplifies back-end integration - without forcing software migration or rip-and-replace decisions.
The central new product in IBM's enhanced unified comms armoury is the Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony software, which is heavily reliant on the Siemens OpenScape communications technology.
"IBM chose Siemens OpenScape technology because of its interoperability with multiple PBX systems and track record of innovation and vision in this field," said Bruce Morse, vice-president for unified communication and collaboration at IBM.
"Our companies share the goal of developing extensible unified communications solutions that are based on open standards and integrate seamlessly into business processes," he said.
Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony will allow users to manage incoming calls, see who is available to communicate with and how, connect with colleagues faster, and connect with a variety of back-end and legacy systems, said IBM.
IBM said its Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony solution would be available in "mid-2008".