AOL, IBM work on corporate IM integration

Users of IBM Corp.’s Lotus Sametime software may be able to more easily communicate with the 195 million registered users of America Online Inc.’s Instant Messenger (AIM) under a new deal forged by the two companies.

Under the agreement, due to be announced Monday, the companies will test the ability for Sametime customers to communicate with users of the AIM Enterprise Gateway using one screen name, one password and a consolidated contact list, the companies said.

“This is a trial about pooling communities of users together,” said Bruce Stewart, senior vice-president of Strategic Business Solutions at Dulles, Va.-based AOL.

The AIM Enterprise Gateway, launched last November, manages corporate IM use behind company firewalls, and serves as a proxy between business users and the outside AIM network. The company also offers a suite of corporate IM services, including a private domain service, directory authentication, and IM management, logging and monitoring capabilities.

The pilot tests are targeted at integrating the AIM Gateway and corporate IM services with Lotus Sametime’s instant messaging and Web conferencing software.

AIM features are already integrated into the Sametime messaging client under a previous agreement, but users have to log into AIM using a different password, and the contact lists for the two systems are kept separate.

The new tests are aimed at providing a more seamless messaging experience by adding back-end integration, the companies said.

If successful, 8 million Sametime customers would eventually be able to manage AIM usage on their systems and IT managers would be able to log and monitor instant messages between the AOL and Sametime systems.

Stewart did not give a timeline of when he believes that the integration would be successful, saying only that the tests would take “months.”

“We’re hopeful. We just want to make sure it all works,” he said.