This release of Live Communications Server can archive user communications as well as overall system settings. However, companies shouldnt expect to save money here that they would have otherwise spent on third-party archiving tools from companies such as Akonix Systems Inc., IMLogic Inc. and FaceTime Communications Inc. Unlike Live Communications Server 2005, products from these companies give users audit capability over data saved in Microsoft SQL Server (for the Enterprise Edition) or the MSDE (Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine) database included with the Standard Edition. Like these other products, however, Live Communications Server 2005 does provide the ability to audit IM communications via a Web browser as well as through generated reports. Administrators can generate reports using MS SQL Reporting or other reporting tools.During setup, Live Communications Server runs numerous preparation processes for configuring Active Directory, but administrators still need to manually install and configure MS Message Queuing Service to create the archive database. Weve found that tools from Akonix and IMLogic do a much better job of setting up all the database requirements at installation. Live Communications Server 2005 delivers notable improvements in the user experience, particularly in collaboration. During tests, we found it much easier to manage presence information because the new Messenger client can tap into a users Outlook Calendar and automatically set IM status as "away" if the user has a meeting scheduled. The contextual presence information in applications has also been improved, with users able to see other users presence in Office applications (including Word and Excel when working on shared documents through SharePoint services). In terms of core features and look and feel, the Messenger client is largely unchanged, so users wont have to familiarize themselves with more than a few new features. One new feature users would do well to use is the ability to access server-side contact lists. With this client and server, we could let users connect the Messenger client to a Live Communications Server from outside the firewall. This will reduce reliance on VPNs for remote connectivity. (Outlook 2003 has a similar capability.) This is nice, but the downside is that users could point a Messenger client on any PC to the aforementioned server-side contact list, potentially revealing organizational structure to a third party. Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.
Archiving is indeed a welcome addition to Live Communications Server, but setting up the archiving engine was one of the more tedious tasks we faced during testing.