Siemens OpenScape Fusion Developer Program Enables Innovative UC Solutions
Recently, a Siemens Enterprise Communications team reviewed the Siemens OpenScape Fusion Developer Program with me. They described the tools and support available for use of OpenScape as a platform for innovative communications applications, including Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP) where communications is plugged directly into daily business applications and workflows.
The Siemens OpenScape product line is a good example of the shift of Unified Communications and Collaboration (broadly, UC) to an integrated software platform. As noted in my Enterprise Connect (formerly VoiceCon) reviews of “UC: Who’s Offering What?,” Siemens was the first major enterprise telephony company to deliver a software-only Telephony and UC solution to the market. With OpenScape, Siemens offers customers a single software product that includes both proven telephony functionality (yes, even including IP telephones for the desktop) and the newer features of UC such as presence, instant messaging, voice/web/video conferencing, mobility, and software developer tools. All of this software can run on a single server for smaller, non-redundant deployments, or can scale on multiple redundant servers to tens of thousands of users, if required.
OpenScape has a very solid lineage for UC. Early in the emerging UC market, Siemens built the first version of OpenScape as a blend of their global telephony expertise with the Microsoft Live Communication Server platform. But, Siemens did not stop there. Just a few years later, Siemens had created a new version of OpenScape built entirely on their own communications software and featuring OpenSOA (Service Oriented Architecture). This new version continued to interoperate with Microsoft products. Additionally, in 2007, Siemens licensed elements of the OpenScape software to IBM to enhance the telephony interoperability of IBM Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony.
The Siemens OpenScape Fusion Developer Program focuses on transforming the software capabilities of Siemens OpenScape into valuable new UC applications for enterprises of all sizes. Siemens emphasizes that Fusion is “Open, Easy, Mature, and Free” by which they mean that the software is built to open standards, the SDKs are easy to use, the software is mature, and the program is available at no charge.
Several of the Siemens OpenScape Fusion Developer Program features that caught my attention include:
- Developer Sandbox: Siemens provides a cloud-based developer environment. With a simple registration, developers can begin creating and testing their applications without having to install OpenScape software in their own network. As the modules or applications take shape, the software can be moved to an in-house system. This can be a very valuable part of the Fusion program as it minimizes both the time and the expense to get a project into feasibility and prototype stages.
- Developer Community: The program includes a developer community in which any registered developer can pose questions and share experience and expertise with fellow developers through blogs, FAQs, and support question forums.
- Developer Resources: The OpenScape Fusion Developer Portal assembles all the necessary tools into one spot. Developers don’t need to be searching the product sites for documentation or downloads.
- Training and Tutorials: On-line resources provide tutorials on how to use the OpenScape Software Development Kits (SDKs) and other OpenScape tools. In addition, fee-based training programs are available for more in-depth, instructor-assisted learning.
- The OpenScape APIs to support the SDKs are built into the OpenScape software. There is no need for separate servers to enable the UC applications, which is often the case with other companies’ application development offerings.
- Developer Services: Fee-based services are also available to help Developers successfully complete their projects. These services include live interactions with engineering support; some training (as above); on-site OpenScape lab environments; and application certifications.
- Business Development: Once an application is ready to go, Siemens also offers fee-based marketing and business development support such as co-marketing and branding; featuring in the Siemens Solutions Showcase; joint participation at trade shows; and co-selling with selected Siemens partner products.
In addition to these OpenSOA toolkits and the OpenScape Fusion Developer services, Siemens is providing pre-packaged connectors to the major desktop software options – both from Microsoft and IBM. Future directions point to packaged connectors for leading business applications, such as SAP and Salesforce.com. Connectors are also planned for Google and for Twitter (as demonstrated at VoiceCon San Francisco 2009). In addition, there are toolkits for the leading mobile devices, based on Objective C for iPhone, Java for Droid, and .NET for Microsoft Windows Phone.
The Siemens team highlighted four major application areas as the focus for the OpenScape Fusion Developer Program:
- Social Media integrations to connect people more quickly and easily.
- Contact Center with UC features for proactive support and improved customer response.
- IP Telephony applications to deliver information and applications to the desktop.
- CEBP to improve business process workflows and collaborative team results.
Overall, the Siemens Enterprise Communications OpenScape Fusion Developer Program has a solid set of developer information, support and services. The program has been in operation for several years with hundreds of participants to date. The Siemens team was, of course, extending an open invitation (no pun intended) for any communications solutions developers to join the program.
Siemens does face challenges with the program, of course. First, Siemens continues to be challenged to broaden their go-to-market programs and channels in North America, as mentioned in the most recent Gartner UC Magic Quadrant; the Fusion program is certainly a key element for Siemens to attract new channel partners in North America as well as in Siemens’ global markets. Second, Siemens needs to offer programs that are attractive to customers with installed PBX and IP PBX platforms from Avaya (and Nortel), Cisco, NEC and others; since Siemens can run the OpenScape UC Server on a single server connected to any of those platforms. Such programs are technically possible, should Siemens elect that approach.
In summary, the Siemens OpenScape Fusion Developer Program is based on a solid, software-based, open-standards platform. Both the OpenScape platform and the Fusion program are worthy of review and potential adoption by UC application developers.
This paper is sponsored by Siemens Enterprise Communications.