Plan presence integration (Office SharePoint Server)

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

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Topic Last Modified: 2016-11-14

In this article:

  • About online presence

  • Advantages of incorporating online presence

  • Organizational considerations

  • Software requirements

  • E-mail account requirements

Online presence enables individuals who have access to your site to see who is online and to send instant messages to them. Online presence can be a powerful collaboration tool that helps site members to quickly find out who is available to answer questions.

This article explains what online presence is, how it can be used in an organization, and the software that is required to enable it.

About online presence

Online presence gives individuals the ability to identify who is online and available to communicate with them at any given moment. Enabling online presence (and installing the required software) adds an online status indicator next to an individual's name wherever their name appears in a site collection. The online status indicator shows whether the individual is offline or is online and available to respond to queries via an instant messaging client. When an individual is online, you can click the online status indicator to send an instant message. This direct access to knowledgeable sources can help team members work more effectively and efficiently.

Wherever a member name appears in a site, the online status indicator menu is available. The online status indicator is integrated with the Active Directory directory service, Microsoft Exchange Server, and MSN Messenger to provide information, such as office location and free/busy status, so it is a useful tool for scheduling meetings and sending e-mail even when an individual is offline.

Online status is rendered by an ActiveX control that is installed with Microsoft Office. The ActiveX control enables online status to be displayed. This control verifies the e-mail address on record for the user and directs a query to the presence server for that client to see if they are online. The ActiveX control does not store online information or e-mail addresses; it simply directs queries from the site to the e-mail address and renders the appropriate status.

Online presence is enabled by default; however, both the software and e-mail account requirements must be met for the functionality to be available to end users.

Advantages of incorporating online presence

The advantage of enabling presence is in the ability to use it to improve collaboration between group members and increase efficiency in business processes. By integrating instant messaging and presence information in a SharePoint site, group members can see who is online and instantly know whether they are available for a quick question or brief meeting. Individuals can streamline work processes by immediately notifying team members of document or timeline changes or establish group collaborative sessions by using instant messaging.

Organizational considerations

Because online presence is enabled at the Web application level, it is enabled for all sites and subsites of that virtual server. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that all site collections within the virtual server are willing to share this level of transparency.

While enabling online presence is beneficial in many environments where collaboration is critical, it is important to balance the benefits of increased collaboration among group members with the requirements for security and compliance, particularly in regard to the deployment of an instant messaging client. Planning for presence should include assurance that both internal and external communications to and from the instant messaging client are consistent with company-wide policy for security and compliance with regulatory guidelines and business practices.

For example, in some highly regulated industries, instant messaging conversations must be retained in accordance with record-keeping requirements for electronic communications. Companies that are subject to Sarbanes-Oxley regulation must archive instant messaging conversations as a part of their records-retention requirements.

Software requirements

Because online status is rendered by Office, Office 2003 or later is required on all client computers. Additionally, one of the following instant messaging clients must be installed on client computers to enable real-time communications:

  • Microsoft Windows Messenger version 4.6

  • MSN Messenger version 4.6 or later

  • Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 or later

If either MSN Messenger or Windows Messenger is installed on the client computer, by default the end user will see online status for their Messenger contacts only. If Office Communicator is installed, the end user will see the online status for all users who have permissions on the site collection.

E-mail account requirements

To display online status, the presence feature uses a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) address to communicate with the instant messaging client. If a SIP address is not available, a .NET address (MSN Messenger) or an Exchange Instant Messaging address (Windows Messenger) can be configured on an individual basis. However, only SIP addresses can take advantage of additional presence features, such as the ability to send and receive e-mail and to display free/busy information from the online status indicator.

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