Ribbon Communications Hook Up with IBM for Enterprise Collaboration
Paving the way for more productive employees
Ribbon (which came about from the recent merger between GENBAND and Sonus) and IBM are working together on brand-new technology designed to improve productivity and collaboration. The “Realtime Connections” client developed by Ribbon integrates seamlessly with IBM Sametime and Connections along with Ribbon’s cloud UC offer, Kandy Business Solutions. Kandy offers all the functions and features you’d expect from a traditional on-premises PBX strategy.
I spoke with Greg Zweig, the Director of Solutions Marketing at Ribbon Communications, about how this alliance is helping IBM customers to grow more productive and creative in the office, or on the road.
Tell Us About the Integration
When I sat down with Greg, the first thing I wanted to know is how they’d offered their expertise to IBM, to help them deliver a better customer experience. Greg told me that IBM came to Ribbon a few years ago, and the two started having conversations about what they might be able to accomplish together. One of IBM’s biggest challenges was that they had a large install base of traditional Sametime and Connections customers in Europe, but those customers were looking for ways to engage with voice and video.
“IBM wanted to extend their client offer, without requiring customers to adopt a new experience. They knew their customers didn’t necessarily want to change their infrastructure to add UC , so we said that we could implement a mix of client containers and WebRTC to emulate the Sametime experience and add voice and video on top.”
“That’s our Realtime Connections client. It pulls presence and IM out of Sametime, then layers voice and video on the top. We developed this with IBM’s assistance, and you can operate it in parallel with an existing installed base of Sametime clients.”
How Easy is it To Use the Realtime Connections Client?
Essentially, what Ribbon have done for IBM is blend two worlds together, and add their own UC piece over the top. I asked Greg how simple they had made it for users to switch to the new experience.
“It couldn’t be simpler. You can even use the native Sametime client, click to dial in, and enjoy the benefits, or you can use the Ribbon client. It’s very flexible, you can have a new client fully-enabled or something in between depending on what you need. We did this because we’ve found that a lot of big enterprise clients don’t have the same answer as to what they want in the communications space. They might want to give different groups of users’ different strategies, it’s all dependent on the circumstances.”
The WebRTC element for the client is completely hidden inside of the system. Basically, the container runs on a Windows or Mac executable, but the client itself is WebRTC enabled.
What’s the Future Strategy with IBM?
Since IBM was already doing some things with UC before Ribbon came along to help, I was interested to see whether the company were considering ways of replacing corporate telephony with their Kandy strategy. Greg said that such a solution would be an opportunity for Ribbon:
“IBM traditionally created PBX connectors for Sametime. The problem with that is that every one of them was a never-ending systems integration projects. As soon as a new upgrade comes along, you need to integrate again. What we’ve done for IBM is create something that’s turnkey. It doesn’t require any systems integration. You can just use the stock client and get a stock set of services without any extra work. We wanted to eliminate the multi-year, multi-expense effort to get things operationalised.”
Ribbon has taken much of the complexity out of the experience. Customers can simply take the standard IBM client and enter Ribbon credentials to get a similar experience.
Does Everything Overlay?
Since Ribbon has a lot of different services to offer, including video conferencing, meeting, and contact, I was interested to find out if everything overlays with IBM naturally. Greg told me that you can get basically any of Ribbon’s UC services from the Ribbon client, but you might not get everything through the basic Sametime client because IBM wanted to keep a lightweight, standards-based, integration.
Overall, the IBM and Ribbon integration is very unique, particularly when you consider the fact that Ribbon is also working with IBM GTS (pro-services team) to help ensure that customers can get end to end support. I’m excited to see what comes next from the two brands.