SharePoint, IM and Presence

Like most people who use MSN Messenger I have a Hotmail account that does nothing but act as my MSN identity. I've used the same one for years, and thankfully Trillian provided a bridge while friends and colleagues migrated (or didn't) from ICQ to MSN.

But now I spend my days in SharePoint and this brings a new dilemna. SharePoint has online presence indicators the people on my team. When I open a document from a shared library, MS-Word also shows me who's online so I can pop open a conversation window. It's way cool.

The problem? SharePoint considers my address to be the one it reads from Active Directory:, rather than It doesn't have the capacity to associate my domain account -- call it my private identity -- with the public hotmail identity I've been using for years. That public identity is for all purposes permanent. I've had that public identity through three employers and dozens of contracts. To change it, I need to bother roughly a hundred people in my contact list to "allow this user to see your online status."

Ideally, SharePoint would have the brains to perform the lookup. It's near the top of my list for feature requests, right after Recycle Bin. In the meantime, I'd like Live Communication Server to solve the problem. Perhaps as a corporate IM hub, LCS could provide address translation and associate my public identity with my domain account -- sort of an IM proxy to the outside world. The world sees my "permanent" address, and people inside the firewall see my corporate identity and all the presence indicator goodness that comes with.

It is unclear whether this is even a feature of LCS. The feature list doesn't exactly spit it out. I Asked An Expert at TechEd last year, and they exclaimed "yes!" at first, but then turned a little dour and non-committal for my liking.

I've tried installing the LCS Standard Edition Trial to a test environment, but it seems that I can't without changing the AD schema of the entire company. Our test lab is a child domain of the corporate forest, and AD schema changes need to occur from the top down. Who knows the answer? Anyone doing it? Feedback, please!

And so I need a plan B. Once again, thank Cerulean for Trillian. After creating a Passport for my corporate address and pressing a couple buttons in Trillian, I can now be in two places at once. I still need to bother everyone in my contact list to add the new identity, but hopefully I'll stick with CDI long enough for them to forget about it by the time it happens again. And inside the firewall, by all indicators, I'm present.

However, I'm not about to recommend that the whole sales force migrates to Trillian. They have Hotmail addresses of their own. There needs to be a real solution. Is there a way to run two versions of the client -- perhaps Exchange Messenger and MSN Messenger -- at once? Will LCS solve this problem or does it just secure and archive corporate IM traffic?

Got a solution? I'd love to hear from you. And if it works I won't need to take up two spaces on your buddy list.

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