Introduction


With Lotus Sametime Advanced, IBM has extended the capabilities of Lotus Sametime Standard (instant messaging, VoIP, video chats, and Web conferencing) to include persistent group chat, broadcast tools, and screen sharing.

Instant Technologies, specialists in developing innovative, enterprise-class compliance and productivity solutions for IBM Lotus Sametime, has long offered comparable capabilities in Instant Team Sessions (encrypted and secure browser-based persistent chat rooms) and Instant Queue Manager (real-time, presence-aware access to subject matter experts).

This document compares the features of Lotus Sametime Advanced with those of Instant Team Sessions and Instant Queue Manager, along with the complexity of deploying and managing the two options, to help you decide which option meets your requirements for the lowest total cost of ownership.

Functionality Overview

Persistent Chat

Think of persistent chat as managed, multi-user ‘places’ in which cross-organizational teams can collaborate on specific topics in the atmosphere of an open forum where both the chat room and the content—conversations, documents, files, bookmarks—persist over time.

Persistent chat combines the presence awareness and real-time communication benefits of instant messaging with the interactive dynamics of live, in-person team meetings.

Both Lotus Sametime Advanced and Instant Team Sessions share a common definition of persistent chat’s features and benefits.

Broadcast Tools vs Real-time Presence-Aware Queue Management

Lotus Sametime Advanced includes ‘broadcast tools’ intended to connect internal users with information and experts which would otherwise have been difficult to find.  The main component of these broadcast tools is ‘Skilltap’, which enables internal Lotus Sametime users to request information or ask questions of a broad community.

Instant Queue Manager also connects users with information and subject matter experts, but it takes the concept several steps further:

  • Requests can be initiated by both internal and external users via the Sametime client and/or STLinks embedded in a web page, thereby making Instant Queue Manager a valuable tool for both internal knowledge sharing (eg, help desk support) and external services such as sales and customer support;
  • Requests are intelligently routed to relevant subject matter experts according to the nature of the inquiry;
  • Issues can be escalated to 2nd– and 3rd-level support to improve first call resolution rates; and
  • Instant Queue Manager automatically captures metrics for management oversight on performance—average wait time for assistance, time taken to resolve requests, names of agents who accept or decline requests, and more.

Screen Sharing

Screen sharing allows users to share an application, a portion of their screens, or their entire desktop with other users in real-time—without having to stop to schedule a Web conference.

Both Lotus Sametime Advanced and Instant Queue Manager offer instant screen sharing capabilities between users.  Lotus Sametime Advanced allows users to launch screen sharing within the Lotus Sametime Connect client, while Instant Queue Manager allows users to launch screen sharing via their preferred third-party web conferencing service.

Deployment Comparison:  Infrastructure Requirements for IBM Lotus Sametime Advanced


The diagram below illustrates the infrastructure required to run Lotus Sametime Advanced:


As illustrated in figure 1 above, Lotus Sametime Advanced requires a minimum of five separate servers (and more likely ten servers, if you require redundancy for availability and failover).  This also means, of course, that your support staff require expertise in Websphere, Websphere Message Queue, Websphere Event Broker, DB2 Enterprise Server, and DB2 Net Search Extender.  You need to consider very carefully the impact on total cost of ownership of all this hardware and requisite technical expertise.

Deployment Comparison:  Infrastructure Requirements for Instant Team Sessions and Instant Queue Manager


The diagram below illustrates the infrastructure required to run and the products from Instant Technologies that combine to deliver capabilities comparable to those found in Lotus Sametime Advanced:


As illustrated in figure 2 above, Instant Team Sessions and Instant Queue Manager run on your existing Lotus Sametime infrastructure.  You can easily add value to your investment in Lotus Sametime Standard without incurring additional costs for hardware, training, and the ongoing maintenance and support of a complex Lotus Sametime Advanced Environment.

Note:  For optimal performance, Instant Queue Manager should be deployed on any machine on your network that can connect to your Lotus Sametime server.  Instant Queue Manager effectively functions like a user logging in to your Lotus Sametime server.

Conclusion


As with any product comparison, the preceding pages illustrate an overlap of features common to both options as well as features unique to each option.

Lotus Sametime Advanced’s main advantages are its enhanced broadcast capabilities and its support for screensharing within the Lotus Sametime Connect client.  Those advantages, however, result in a significant increase in deployment complexity, which in turn creates IT overhead for the additional technical expertise required to manage and maintain the environment.

Your analysis must therefore extend beyond the relatively low initial buy-in for Lotus Sametime Advanced and take into consideration the total cost of ownership over the long run.  Instant Team Sessions and Instant Queue Manager, deployed separately or in combination according to your requirements, deliver comparable (and in many areas superior) functionality—utilizing your existing hardware and your existing technical capabilities.