IM-Age Inc. and PalTalk Inc. are each readying software that adds new instant messaging capabilities for enterprises.
Startup IM-Age this week will introduce the company as well as its first product, a security add-on for commercial IM platforms, called IM-Age for Desktops. The software provides encryption, authentication, alerting and logging of instant messages for AOL-Time Warner Inc.s AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ, Microsoft Corp.s MSN Messenger, IBMs Lotus divisions Sametime, and Yahoo Inc.s Yahoo Messenger IM systems.
The software logs conversations to a central server, where it creates a database of all instant messages for companies, such as financial services companies, that are required to keep all communications. IT departments can set up alerts when keywords appear in the database or run reports against it, said IM-Age officials, in Houston.
IM-Age for Desktops can run without users knowledge, or it can automatically send notifications so users know their messages are being cataloged.
Running IM-Age for Desktops in stealth mode was important for an IT manager at a Houston-based systems integrator, who beta tested the product. The IT manager, who asked that his name and company not be identified, used the software to monitor IM traffic while searching for the source of leaks of proprietary information.
"It was a sensitive issue," the IT manager said. "We held a public meeting [after catching the leaker] and discussed why we screened the messages. There were some feelings hurt, but it was the people who were violating [the rules] who were the ones whose feelings were hurt."
Since clearing up that problem, the company has found IM-Age useful in logging IM communications with vendors who quote one price over IM then another once they ship their product, the IT manager said.
Separately, consumer IM service PalTalk has been toying with expanding into the business market. PalTalk offers standard chat services but also has voice and video IM. Last week, the New York-based company introduced PalTalk 6.0, which enables up to six simultaneous streaming video images in a single chat box.
This fall, the company will roll out an as-yet-unnamed service for businesses that offers chat, file swapping, and higher-quality voice and video chat along with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption and other security features.
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