IBM and Avaya have signed a deal to integrate audio and VoIP with e-mail, instant messaging, and Web conferencing products.

The agreement is an expansion of an existing partnership between the two vendors that spans back to 2001. The deal will result in two points of integration between IBM's and Avaya's products.

Avaya's VoIP technology will enable a new "click-to-call" feature in IBM's Lotus Notes and Sametime IM collaboration products. This function allows users to launch a phonecall to an e-mail or IM contact without leaving their inbox or IM client. A call is initiated by right-clicking on a name or multiple names within an e-mail or IM.

The second part of the agreement brings integrated audio conferencing to IBM's Lotus Web Conferencing. Audio conferencing provided by Avaya Meeting Exchange will give Web conferencing participants a visual indication of who is speaking and advanced capabilities such as dialing out to new meeting participants, mute, and volume control.

The goal of the integration is to give enterprise customers seamless access to collaboration tools and IP communications, according to Ken Bisconti, vice president of Workplace, Portal, Lotus, and Collaboration Products at IBM. "The main focus is on productivity and flexibility," he said. "We are continuing to see marketplace demands for convergence: traditional collaboration software tied with new modes of communication [and] voice."

"There is a lot of interest in VoIP systems in the marketplace. Upgrades people are making are largely VoIP-based. As organisations are doing so, they are looking to leverage new features enabled by VoIP," Bisconti added.

Click-to-call functionality and the Web conferencing integration is scheduled to be available with Lotus Sametime by the end of the year. Lotus Notes and Domino integration is due at the start of next year.