Security a Bugaboo
Security remains a lingering bugaboo, however. Public IM systems like AOL, Yahoo, and MSN all use the same port for messaging between firewalls, according to security pros. Some organizations try to deal with this problem by blocking this port on their corporate firewalls. However, all the major IM clients fall back to port 80 if the IM port has been blocked. Port 80, though, just so happens to also be the Web port, so most companies opt to keep it open.
Logging and archiving are also becoming big issues in IM. "The SEC already requires financial firms to log e-mails. Now, it looks as though requirements might be extended to IM, too," Ignatius contends. In fact, just last week, the financial services industry's self-regulatory body, NASD, ordered securities brokers and dealers to save instant messages (IMs) sent to clients and employees for at least three years (NASD's IM Order Could Boost Storage Firms). Outside of the financial field, administrators express dismay over the possible impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which broadens the reach of records archiving regulations to all publicly traded companies.
Sametime Gets Company in EIM Arena
IBM bills Lotus Sametime as the first IM product in the enterprise arena. To give administrators greater control over IM, vendors like AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, Sun, and Sprint have also recently started rolling out their own EIM offerings. Generally speaking, EIM systems include built-in management and security features such as policy-based rules, logging, archiving, auditing, and to an increasing degree, encryption.
By setting policies, an administrator might ban some employees from IM while allowing others, or restrict all IM to the hours of 9 am and 5 pm on weekdays, for instance.
Beyond these administrative functions, IBM's Londergan points to a number of additional features in Sametime, including audio/video messaging, "one-to-many" IM, and the ability to be alerted when other users are back at their desks and available for messaging.
Internally, IBM is using bots that integrate EIM with help, dictionary, and "acronym abbreviation" functions. Employees can send IMs to find out the meaning of a word or acronym. Some Sametime customers are deploying similar bots, according to Londergan.
On the third-party side, NetIQ's imMarshal for MSN adds the ability to record, archive, and audit chat sessions in the existing MSN Messenger for Windows. The tool also provides IM scanning and monitoring, content analysis with keyword detection, support for outside antivirus products, corporate policy enforcement, and -- to save on bandwidth -- administrative control over the types and sizes of files sent.