By eweek  |  Posted 2003-11-10 Print this article Print

Regulatory and statutory compliance was the lowest-ranked enterprise IM problem among participants in this eSeminar, but that may be a flawed perception. The intention of many participants to establish a multidisciplinary IM task force is the correct response, reducing the chance of being blindsided by a collision between rapidly changing technology and rapidly changing laws and expectations.

With the lead that proprietary IM has, wont open-source alternatives have a hard time breaking into the enterprise?

Thats one way of looking at the situation. Another is that open source represents the community consensus on core interoperability guarantees and that the "lead" of proprietary IM offerings is leading in the direction of more features, but at higher cost and with less choice.

Open frameworks, against which enterprises and solution providers can build strategic custom applications, are probably more important to getting enterprise advantage from IM than the packaged feature sets of any off-the-shelf offering—no matter how rich that package might be.

We need both intranet and extranet IM capabilities. What kind of a solution is the best to deploy? We want to be able to manage the operation; were not looking for an application service provider.

Youll need an IM server and some development expertise to presence-enable the intranet and extranet. The IM platforms from IBM and Microsoft both allow you to do what you want; its just a matter of which tools you use.

We have MSN. Can different platforms IM each other?

The three main consumer services dont connect to one another, but gateways allow companies running an IM platform to connect with the three services.

I want to have people working on an instant messaging network, but not waste their time with instant messaging outside. How do I do this?

You can use an IM management application with a proxy server to block access to external networks.

Are there still issues with security, and, if so, what is being done to secure IM?

The enterprise IM platforms and the enterprise-oriented services all provide encryption on traffic. You will need to think about anti-virus and spam-filtering technology at the gateway.

If we use an externally hosted IM service, how do we know that the IM content is secured against eavesdropping? Point-to-point encryption only protects the messages while in transit.

Every enterprise IM provider will tell you that your content is fully protected. Every enterprise IT administrator needs to be prepared to discuss, with those who pay the bills, the spectrum of security solutions that ranges all the way up to completely internal operations—with line-by-line verification of every piece of code. As in other key supplier relationships, its usually more cost-effective to write clear and enforceable contracts than to seek to substitute technology for trust.


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