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Integrating Lync 2010 with IBM Social Collaboration Environments

Summary:   Learn how to integrate Microsoft Lync 2010 in an IBM Social Collaboration environment that uses Lotus Notes, IBM Connections, and IBM WebSphere.

Applies to:   Microsoft Lync 2010 | Lync Server 2010 | Microsoft Unified Communications Managed API (UCMA)

Published:   October 2011 | Provided by:   Carl Tyler, Epilio | About the Author

Contents

Organizations which are using or considering Microsoft Lync 2010 in an IBM Social Collaboration environment consisting of products such as Lotus Notes, IBM Connections and IBM WebSphere, often wonder what integration options are available to them. If they are using the lead unified communications solution from Microsoft alongside technologies from IBM, this article discusses how the highly customizable nature of Lync 2010 lets customers to use Lync seamlessly within the IBM offerings.

Using a common corporate directory across the various systems involved can go a long way towards really increasing the speed and ease with which interoperability can be configured. This is often the reason why many organizations select Active Directory Domain Services, and choose to use Active Directory Domain Services as their LDAP source for the IBM products. At a minimum, there must be a unique key for users that is consistent across systems. In most cases it makes sense to use the user’s Internet email address as their unique identifier. This unique identifier would then be used as the SIP URI for Lync 2010, and as the unique identifier for the IBM systems.

The first experience many have with Lync 2010 is with its presence and instant messaging capabilities, using them to help find colleagues and to communicate more efficiently and effectively. Through its tight integration with Microsoft Office productivity tools, users have come to expect presence indicators when they see a person’s name, regardless of the application that they may be in. By providing contextual presence, users can rapidly find and locate the individual with which they want to communicate. Through the various Lync 2010 features, that channel can be an instant message or a telephone call.

Figure 1. Setting presence in Lync 2010

Setting presence in Lync 2010

Presence in Lotus Notes

Email is an application where presence and awareness makes perfect sense. A user’s presence shown in email establishes that user’s personal availability by using various states such as “Available,” “Busy,” or “Do Not Disturb.” With this information available, a user reading an email can decide as to which communication channel may be best, whether it is email, instant message, or Lync telephone call. Presence provides the user with the benefit of knowing immediately if they will be able to get another users attention, versus the “send it and forget it” approach of email.

In Presence in Lotus Notes – Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 Automation API Sample, you learn how to display presence status and provide real-time collaboration options in IBM Lotus Notes by using the Automation API provided by Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. This sample also works with Lync 2010.

Figure 2. Lync 2010 presence within Lotus Notes email

Lync 2010 presence within Lotus Notes email

The sample includes a toolkit of reusable components for Notes developers to use within their applications and modified out of the box IBM templates. Presence can be enabled within the Lotus Notes email database, but also within any Lotus Notes legacy application. The sample include two presence controls. The first displays the online status of individual Lync users and provides access to functionality such as instant message and Chat. The second control shows a list of Lync users in a “buddy list” type format. Both controls may be added to Notes forms and documents and can be controlled and scripted from LotusScript.

The toolkit includes several examples of Lotus Notes applications that are enabled for Lync 2010, and each demonstrates how Lync presence can add value within Lotus Notes environments. By using the toolkits, Lotus Notes developers can make their Lotus Notes business processes (CEBP) “communications-aware”, bringing the benefits of presence awareness to applications such as order tracking or vacation request approvals.

Presence in IBM Connections and IBM WebSphere Portal

For companies that use IBM Connections and IBM WebSphere Portal with Lync 2010, presence is still available. IBM Connections and IBM WebSphere do not use a desktop installed package like Lotus Notes. Instead, Connections and WebSphere Portal use a web browser as their client. Lync 2010 includes tools for rendering a Lync user’s presence information on a webpage, and sample code and documentation at the CodePlex Open Source Community website demonstrates how that can be used in an IBM Connections and IBM WebSphere Portal. For more information, see Rendering presence within IBM Lotus Connections using Microsoft OCS Name Control.

The sample includes two methods for bringing awareness into IBM Connections, and one method for IBM WebSphere Portal. The Business Card enhancement sample is designed for IBM Connections and it improves a core feature with Lync 2010 presence information.

The second component of the sample shows how to develop an iWidget that can be used with IBM Connections or IBM WebSphere Portal. The sample iWidget displays presence of a Lync user on mouse hover, and displays available contextual menu options that include an instant message, or a call.

The Lync 2010 Name control is an ActiveX object installed with Microsoft Office. The Name control currently only operates in Windows Internet Explorer Internet browser so alternatives are required if a company has standardized on a different browser.

For organizations that enable presence and chat capabilities without using Microsoft Windows platforms or Internet Explorer, there is another sample on the CodePlex Open Source Community website that uses the Microsoft Unified Communications Managed API (UCMA) WCF Rest Service that exposes many of the methods in UCMA through a REST endpoint and a SOAP endpoint. It uses an ASP.NET web application wrapper. The wrapper is a standard AJAX ASP.NET web application that acts as leverage and provides both presence and chat functionality. When queried for presence data or chat messages, the web application interfaces with the underlying UCMA Rest Service libraries that transparently connect to Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and obtain the requested data as needed. For more information about the sample, see iWidget for Rendering Presence using Microsoft UCMA WCF Rest Service.

Figure 3. AJAX-based Lync 2010 presence as an iWidget

AJAX-based Lync 2010 presence as an iWidget

With Microsoft Lync Server 2010, you can use various collaboration and online meeting tools. The tools do not have to be reserved for special events or limited to specific physical spaces. The voice and video capabilities of Lync Server 2010 can work reliably and from any location with an Internet connection. With a reduction in travel expenses and reliance on third-party conferencing solutions, unified conferencing can help businesses achieve cost savings.With unified conferencing in Lync Server 2010, users can collaborate, share information, and coordinate their efforts in real time. Audio, video, and sharing of documents, desktops, and applications are incorporated into the Lync 2010 client.

Lync Online Meetings Connector for Lotus Notes

The standard Lotus Notes email and calendar templates for versions 6.5, 7, and 8 contain an option for scheduling online meetings. However, this is limited to only creating IBM Sametime meetings. In Lotus Notes Connector for Microsoft Online Meetings, you can enhance the base functionality to let Lotus Notes users to also create Lync 2010 meetings or audio conferences.

The connector package includes updated email design templates for Lotus Notes 6.5, 7, and 8.5.x. Each template is self-contained— no other Notes/Domino configuration files are needed. The mail file modifications communicate with a Microsoft Unified Communications Managed API (UCMA) 2.0 enabled web service, which communicates with Lync Server 2010.

The appointment form modifications are fully documented in the connector package, and include process workflow and code documentation. The Lync Meeting scheduling is available to users.

Figure 4. New Lync meet options in a Lotus Notes Appointment

New Lync meet options in a Lotus Notes Appointment

To schedule a meeting, users click the link to indicate that they want to include an online meeting and then add details. The full meeting details are stored in their calendar, and is also included in the invitation that is sent to meeting attendees. On the back end of this infrastructure, the REST service (which is included in the sample) is installed, and the Notes client communicates with that REST service to schedule meetings.

This article discusses how to integrate Microsoft Lync 2010 and IBM’s Social Collaboration platforms. The Lync 2010 unified communications solution includes tight integration with Microsoft products, but is also extensible so that it may be integrated with various vendor solutions. Lync 2010 operates seamlessly within various environments, and the toolkits and samples discussed in this article can help you build high-value Lotus Notes business process (CEBP) solutions.

Carl Tyler heads the Epilio organization. He has over 20 years of experience with collaboration software, including over nine years at Lotus Development and two plus years at IBM Development UK. While at Lotus he was Worldwide Knowledge Management Manager and Lotus Notes R5 International Launch Manager. More information about Epilio and its products can be found at http://www.epilio.com.

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