Four enterprise instant messaging systems gain the ability to communicate with AOL's market-leading IM service, in another sign of growing support for messaging interoperability.
AOL Instant Messenger moved instant messaging interoperability a step forward Thursday by announcing that it will work in conjunction with four mid-tier business IM systems.
America Online Inc. launched a partner program with Antepo Inc., Jabber Inc., Omnipod Inc. and Parlano Inc., all of which sell enterprise software or services for presence and IM.
Through the program, AOL handles the translation and routing of IM traffic among the systems so that AIM users and users of each of the four enterprise systems can conduct IM sessions, share contacts and view presence information, the Dulles, Va., company announced. The federation does not extend to communicate among the enterprise IM systems.
"This is a fairly significant step because it starts to break down the barriers that exist with interoperability right now," said Michael Osterman, founder of messaging and collaboration analysis firm Osterman Research Inc.
AIM is the most widely used IM client and service within enterprises, even though it is geared toward consumers and often not endorsed by corporate IT, Osterman said.
In March survey of enterprises, Osterman Research found that 62.6 percent were using AIM, followed closely by MSN and Yahoo.
The introduction of the AOL Enterprise Federation Partner program follows Microsoft Corp.s IM federation efforts for its Live Communications Server.
As of April 1, Microsoft plans to begin offering its previously announced public-IM interconnectivity option that will connect LCS 2005 with AIM, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger.
The approach AOL is taking with the four enterprise IM partners is similar to AIMs connectivity with Microsofts IM server, said Brian Curry, AOLs vice president of premium and subscription services.
AOL manages a federation gateway in order to translate the various IM protocols used in the different services, such as SIP/SIMPLE, XMPP and AIMs proprietary protocol.
Click here to read more about the shifting technology and business models behind IM interoperability.
AOLs latest enterprise IM effort comes after speculation that the company was shying away from the enterprise market. Last year, it stopped selling an AOL-branded enterprise gateway server.
But Curry said AOL never intended to retreat from the enterprise market, rather was repositioning itself as a network provider that reaches corporate users through partnerships.
"We really see ourselves as a network service provider, and this is another way of making this network available to a constituency of users, namely, the enterprise users," Curry said. "For us its about growing the size and utility of the network."
Next Page: Lotus and Reuters.
As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.