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Lines Blur Between Voice And Social Networking

The walls between voice services, social networking and collaboration are starting to fall as vendors blend unified communications with wikis, blogs and Twitter. At VoiceCon 2009, Siemens Communications is launching a demo of a forthcoming integration between OpenScape, its UC platform, and Twitter, the insanely popular micro-blogging network. The integration will enable OpenScape users to initiate phone conferences from a Twitter post, as well as have the conference service dial Twitter users. "If you include two people in a tweet and say 'Let's get on a conference call,' it creates a conference call without you having to go and set it up yourself," says Paul Maddison, operations manager for partnerships at Siemens Communications.

Maddison says the other parties on the tweet don't have to be on the OpenScape platform. Instead, OpenScape can check their Twitter profiles for a phone number, or check the contact list of the conference organizer to see if a Twitter identity is associated with a user in the contact profile. It will also allow OpenScape users to change their status and messaging preferences via a tweet. For instance, an employee could tweet about her arrival at an overseas airport, and OpenScape will adjust her presence profile for the appropriate location and time zone.

Siemens expects a production version of the integration to be available in the first quarter of 2010. In the meantime, a demo will be posted on the OpenScape Youtube channel. In addition Siemens is making an SDK available for developers to experiment with the integration. Siemens is hosting OpenScape software on an Amazon EC2 platform, where developers can use the SDK and run a development instance of OpenScape for a hourly fee. Meanwhile, earlier this week PBworks announced upgrades to its collaboration service to enable real-time collaboration, including IM, presence and live editing of content. The company also announced plans to add voice conferencing to its service portfolio.

PBworks will offer its own IM client built on the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) standard. The client will be available as a standard feature of its eponymous SaaS-based collaboration service. With live editing, multiple users can view a wiki page and see changes being made in real time. Note that PBworks follows the single-editor model, in which only one person at a time can make changes. Both the IM and live edit features will be available November 17th.

As for voice, this will be an additional paid service and is expected to launch in 2010. Using the voice service, PBworks will be able to initiate a conference call by clicking on the profiles of other PBworks users, or by entering their phone number into the user interface. The voice service will be based on the SIP protocol and built around Freeswitch, an open-source soft switch telephony platform.

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