Can Enterprise IM Firms Work with Public IM?

The answer, according to one EIM exec who works with the biggest name in software, is a big 'yes.'


You Can't Detect What You Can't See: Illuminating the Entire Kill Chain

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Posted August 19, 2002

Bob Woods

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As instant messaging (IM) takes hold in the enterprise, companies wanting IM will find themselves pulled in two decidedly different directions. One will take them down the path of installing an enterprise IM (EIM) system that's either completely closed off to the outside world, or will have interoperability features with the big 4 of public IM -- AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), ICQ, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. The other road will see enterprises trying to deal with an influx of public IM-using employees who basically refuse to give up their instant access to both personal and business contacts.

This article is for EIM companies in the second group.

I've been saying for quite a while now that EIM firms need to go beyond just implementing EIM systems to designing applications that work with instant messaging. And a lot of firms are moving in that direction.

Boston-based IMlogic definitely finds itself in that second group. Its IMlog IMLog Enterprise can be seamlessly inserted into an existing network and offers IT managers the ability to manage, archive, and report on any IM traffic within the enterprise. It can report on the public networks of AIM, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger; enterprise IM servers like Microsoft Exchange 2000 IM and IBM Lotus Sametime; and hosted IM services like Reuters Messaging.

IMlogic's "proof in the pudding" is its relationship with Microsoft, which last February said it would license IMlogic's archiving technology for its next-generation enterprise real-time communications (RTC) solutions.

I recently spoke with IMlogic Founder and CEO Frances deSouza, who has some tips for other EIM companies -- even his competitors, I suppose -- wanting to work with the big public IM network operators.

In general, how can enterprise IM companies work with the public IM providers?
I think we're reaching the stage where instant messaging is obviously continuing to mature as an enterprise-class communications medium. That means that you're starting to move away from people who are hacking into the IM networks, and providing a product based on that, and then saying it's good enough for the enterprise. I think what we're going to start seeing is people actually working with network providers like Microsoft and AOL, and actually have "sanctioned" ability to use their products.

That's what we've done in the archiving and compliance/management space with our relationship with Microsoft. First, we're a Microsoft partner, but there's over 2,500 Microsoft partners. So we've taken that relationship a step further, as Microsoft has licensed part of our technology and will ship it with their instant messaging server next year.

As enterprises start to view instant messaging as a critical part of their infrastructure, they're starting to expect enterprise-class accessibility and availability. They're saying, "Look, I want to see that my network provider or infrastructure provider plays well with the (public IM) networks, with their blessing.

How did you come to work with Microsoft? Has that been an easy relationship?
It took awhile for it to happen. The bar is very high now at Microsoft, even for instant messaging, because it is viewed as a core part of an enterprise's communications platform. I think the thinking back in '96, '97 and '98 was that (IM) was more of a consumer play, and it wasn't clear that it would be mission critical for an enterprise. Now, Microsoft has turned the dial to say, "This is part of what we're providing as mission-critical infrastructure." So they had some pretty stringent requirements around what a product should be able to do before they embed it into their product. It was a high bar from a coding practices requirement; a high bar from a performance aspect.

One of the things we did was...they took the performance requirements of the Exchange server and made the performance requirements of the RTC (real-time communications) server 20 times as high. That's a pretty big jump. It takes time to develop code and test it to make sure it clears those hurdles.

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