Sametime, formally called "IBM Lotus Instant Messaging & Web Conferencing," is software from Lotus for group collaboration over the Internet. Essentially a synchronous groupware application, Sametime was designed to facilitate communication among geographically dispersed coworkers and others. The Sametime group of products includes the Sametime Server, the Sametime Connect client, and application development tools. Sametime comes with its own directory system for authentication, but it can also plug into other LDAP-compliant directory services to provide users with single signon capability. Although Sametime is a standalone application that does not require the use of Notes or any other Lotus products, it is often used in conjunction with QuickPlace, another popular Lotus collaboration product.
The purpose of real time collaboration products is to approximate, as closely as possible, the experience of face-to-face meetings. According to Lotus, Sametime was developed around three essential components of any successful real time collaboration application: awareness, ease of conversation, and the ability to share objects. Awareness can be established using a Web page, a mobile device, or Sametime Connect. Conversation is possible using instant messaging (IM), a chat room, or video conference over IP. Among the objects that can be shared by users are documents, applications, presentations, and drawings. To share a whiteboard, Sametime allows participants to pass control of the board among themselves so that each can use the board to display information to others.
Among the products competing with Sametime is Microsoft's NetMeeting, which includes some of the same features as the Lotus product. Although NetMeeting can be downloaded free of charge, Sametime is considered to have several advantages over it and most lower-cost alternatives, such as scalability, awareness (defined as the ability of users to know when others are online), and enhanced security features. According to Lotus, 50 of the global Fortune 100 companies have purchased Sametime.
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