Clearly, enterprise IT managers are looking at IM in a different light these days, and a new wave of IM auditing tools are making IM a more attractive (read: more secure) way for workers to communicate.
At the RSA Conference in San Francisco this week, I had a chance to see some of the products and vendor initiatives that are bringing a distinctly corporate appeal to instant messaging technology.
Based on what I saw, I believe the utopia of real-time collaboration solutions is still several years away; the industry must still iron out standards for applications such as IM and others. For now, the focus is rightly on how to effectively secure corporate data while keeping employees happy and productive with IM applications.
Most of the RSA announcements were from vendors of proxy-based software solutions that allow enterprises to control access to, and audit/archive contents in, IM applications. These tools appeal to IT managers because they offer an easy way to secure corporate IM, and are interoperable with popular public IM networks as well as enterprise IM networks.
Offerings such as FaceTime Communications IM Auditor Enterprise software allow companies to monitor and control IM use throughout enterprise networks, as well as public networks (AOL, MSN and Yahoo). New in IM Auditor Enterprise, released earlier this year, are directory integration and local routing capabilities.
Early implementers of FaceTimes IM Auditor, such as financial institutions, used it to document their corporate communications in order to comply with Federal laws. Now, however, more enterprises are embracing IM Auditor Enterprise to tackle IM security and management: The company announced it had signed on 50 new customers in the first quarter of this year.
For the future, FaceTime is looking into moving from a software-only solution to a software/hardware appliance approach, which could offer IT managers a more easily deployable and manageable solution, company officials said.
Elsewhere on the IM front, IMlogic has announced the latest version of its flagship product, IM Manager 5.0. Version 5.0 of the software brings to the table new out-of-the-box anti-virus scanning, content filtering and anti-spam protection capabilities—important additions to any IM management and auditing solution, because IM applications offer potential pathways for viruses and unwanted Spam to infiltrate corporate networks.
How does your company manage and control IM usage? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.