Adding steam to its efforts to build greater support for collaboration in
the enterprise, Microsoft
unveiled the first widely
available beta of ‘Greenwich,’ the code-name for its new instant messaging
and real-time collaboration server software.
“The delivery of this beta represents a milestone in the development of the
‘Greenwich’ technology, which is a component of delivering Microsoft’s
overall real-time collaboration vision,” said Anoop Gupta, corporate vice
president of the Real-Time Collaboration Business Unit at Microsoft. “We
seek to profoundly change how corporations communicate, by bringing
together best-of-breed presence and instant-messaging technologies with
enterprise-grade control and manageability. Presence-based communications
will revolutionize the way information workers collaborate, in the same way
e-mail changed corporate communications in the late 1980s and early 1990s.”
The technology is designed to provide a central means that will manage all
real-time communications within an enterprise. Greenwich, slated for
commercial release in mid-2003, will integrate presence (knowledge of
whether a person is online and available) into the Windows Server 2003
platform to give enterprises access to voice, video and data collaboration.
Customers can choose to either use the platform as an out-of-the-box
enterprise instant messaging (EIM) solution, or as an extensible,
standards-based real-time communications platform.
On the EIM side, the platform is intended to support four key elements:
security, manageability, standards-based architecture and extensibility.
Microsoft said developers and integrators will be able to build on top of
the Greenwich capabilities and modify existing applications that
incorporate presence and IM functionality. The technology also supports
logging and archiving, giving companies additional tools to help protect
corporate privacy and intellectual property, and also helping companies in
certain industries — like financial or medical services — to comply with
Microsoft said the real-time communications platform will help
- Use presence-based functionality to increase the value of
time-sensitive communications by directing messages to available users
- Integrate with Microsoft’s existing MSN Messenger Connect for
Enterprises service, which provides authentication and manageability for
business-to-consumer (B2C) instant messaging
- Enable data collaboration, PC-to-PC voice and video, and other services
providing the foundation for future communications applications.
Microsoft is targeting the technology at organizations which already
utilize instant messaging but need to secure those communications within
their enterprise and with trusted partners.
The technology is supported by the Internet Engineering Task Force’s (IETF)
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), already a part of Windows XP’s Windows
Messenger client. SIP provides the basis for presence, as well as the
ability to support APIs and all of the possible real-time context of text,
speech, files and video.
Microsoft has said Greenwich fully integrates with its IT security
management structure, and adds protection to unencrypted text traveling
across the Internet. Additionally it provides standards support for SSL
encryption, Digest and NTLM/Kerberos authentication.