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Unify sets timetable for launch of its Project Ansible unified communications service

Peter Sayer | March 18, 2014
Unify has set a timetable for the launch of its Project Ansible unified communications product, with beta testing scheduled for May.

Unify has set a timetable for the launch of its Project Ansible unified communications product, with beta testing scheduled for May.

Project Ansible is the name Unify has given to a product through which it aims to combine communications channels such as audio, video, messaging or screensharing with archives of audio and video calls and their transcripts, email, chat and social media, all on a single screen.

Unify said Monday that it has already conducted trials of the software with users, and beta testing, internally and with customers, will begin in May. It now expects to begin selling it, initially as a hosted service, from October under the name "Ansible".

Project Ansible, announced in June, has survived the arrival of a new chief executive: it has been a central focus of CEO Dean Douglas's reviews of the company's product portfolio since his arrival on Jan. 16, the company said.

Last week, the company invited visitors to the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany, to participate in a demonstration of Project Ansible's capabilities. This week it's showing it at Enterprise Connect in Orlando, Florida.

During the tightly scripted demo at Cebit, Unify employees identified whether a colleague was online using the service's presence indicators, placed a video call from an iPhone, and transferred the call to an iPad with one tap and a pause of only a second or two. On the iPad, the larger screen permitted simultaneous viewing of documents related to the discussion, while a subsequent transfer to a PC allowed the conversation to continue with screen sharing. The software clients allowed access to all functions in a single window, sliding between screens to access different features in a way that will be familiar to users of modern smartphone operating systems or Windows 8, but that distinguishes the interface markedly from the pop-ups and multiple windows of legacy desktop unified communications applications.

Communications are clustered into conversations around projects, determined by the persons involved and an analysis of the topics discussed. Conversations are a cross between a non-stop chatroom and an archive, in which it is possible to pass from audio or video conferences to chats or the exchange of documents and emails. All are searchable, because the system analyzes conference recordings to generate transcripts and extract keywords.

Employees joining the service can choose to subscribe to any number of these conversations, "favoriting" the ones most important to their work for which they want to receive all updates, and temporarily "muting" less useful or more frivolous ones by which they no longer wish to be disturbed. In the demo, that was the fate of the "sushi for lunch" thread.

In a conversation or project, names become hotlinks to contact details, while keywords can be linked to other resources, such as a glossary of project terms or an automatically generated directory of colleagues with relevant related knowledge.


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