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Reuters Takes Enterprise IM Award

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The information security officer at a large investment firm was being

pulled in two different directions over instant messaging.

Brian Erdelyi, head of security at Blackmont Capital Inc., needed the

company’s traders and advisors to use an enterprise-level IM for better

security and to meet strict Canadian regulations for storing

communications. His users, however, wanted to be able to message with

clients and colleagues using the more popular AOL and MSN software.

The answer was the gateway that was built into Reuters Messaging 5.0, the

winner in the Enterprise Instant Messaging category of the Datamation

Product of the Year 2006 awards. The gateway, new to this version of

Reuters Messaging, was designed to allow users to communicate seamlessly

with people using AOL’s and MSN’s instant messaging products.

”There has been a huge increase in our investment advisors needing to

communicate with their clients over MSN and AOL because that’s what their

clients are using,” says Erdelyi, who safeguards Blackmont Capital’s 650

employees working in 11 cities across Canada. ”The gateway was exciting.

I had a lot of users at the time and some high-profile users wanting to

communicate with their clients who were on one of those two networks. I

was able to give them a solution they were comfortable with and still

adhere to our regulatory requirements.”

Reuters, long known as a media outlet, has turned some of its attention

to supplying information to the financial markets. The company first

released Reuters Messaging in 2002, designing it as a specialized product

for the financial sector. The November 2005 release of Version 5.0

brought the addition of hosted, secure chat rooms that can connect to

internal and external communities. It also added the gateway to MSN

Messenger and AOL services.

”Why should we care to communicate with the consumer world?” asks Eran

Barak, the global head of strategy for Reuters, which is based in London.

”There’s professional and personal reasons. There are some professionals

who still use consumer IM, not because it’s a good fit to their needs but

because it was the only product available at the time.”

The drawback to connecting with consumer IM services is the loss of some

security measures.

Security is a major reason that many companies implement enterprise IM

packages. Messages traveling across a closed IM network can be encrypted,

and there’s added assurance because the messages don’t travel across a

public — and more easily accessed — network. Once an enterprise IM

service connects with an open, consumer service, some of that security is

lost, according to industry analysts.

”There’s always a a tradeoff between [security] and the desire to

communicate,” says Dr. Sarah Radicati, president and CEO of The Radicati

Group, Inc., a technology market research firm based in Palo Alto, Calif.

”What Reuters is doing correctly is giving people the choice…

Companies need a trade off. There are going to be situations where you

want to have a communication in a most secure manner, and then there will

be times when you want to have initial contact and that doesn’t have to

be as secure or regulated and that can happen on these other networks.

”It always comes down to company policy,” she adds.

And Erdelyi agrees that it’s a matter of having policies in place to add

on another layer of security. Blackmont Capital has policies governing

what kinds of information can and can’t be transmitted over email and

instant messaging.

”Unfortunately [when communicating with public IM services] we do lose

some security,” he says. ”Normally, if we were communicating with

another Reuters Messaging user, the communication would be encrypted.

However, when we communicate with the public networks, it’s not encrypted

and very similar to email. It worried me from the perspective that I

don’t want our advisors to be putting confidential information in there

that could be captured in transit. But just like with email, we’re not

supposed to be disclosing confidential information through email. So we

treat IM in the same way we treat email, and our policies don’t allow the

transmittal of confidential information.”

Erdelyi also notes that Reuters Messaging 5.0 allows him to easily

capture and store IM communications, keeping the company compliant with

federal regulations.

”That’s one of the greatest advantages for me. We are able to log all of

those messages,” he says, adding that the Reuters product captures the

messages and then they store it in their own email archiving system. ”We

wrote a program that extracts all of the messages from the Reuters log

server and we forward that to our email archive. Now our compliance

officers see the messages no differently than they see the email.”

Radicati says Reuters will start to see some increased competition from

the big three public IM players — MSN, AOL and Yahoo, which she predicts

will soon begin adding more security and regulatory-based features.

Despite that increased competition, she says Reuters is well situated to

deal with it.

”They certainly have a good product,” says Radicati. ”They have a

certain command of their market, as well. In several sectors, they have

pretty strong market penetration.”

In the race for Datamation’s Product of the Year award, IM Manager

SMARTGig 6000 from Imlogic, Inc. came in second. In third place was e/Pop

IM Server 3.0 from WiredRed Software, and Perimeter Manager for IM from

Postini, Inc. came in fourth.

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