Who can blame them? IM combines the immediacy of a phone call without demanding the sole attention that a call requires, and it doesnt add one penny to the telephone bill. Whats not to like?
Well, a lot, if youre trying to manage the business network. IM spam, or spim, is growing, IM security violations are always possible, and Sarbanes-Oxley now requires companies to maintain IM archives.
Thats why AOLs Thursday announcement that its partnering with four mid-tier business IM companies—Antepo, Jabber, Omnipod and Parlano—is a big deal.
Of course, you could run your own IM network with Microsofts LCS (Live Communications Server) 2005 or IBMs Lotus Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing (aka Sametime) 6.51.
Both programs give you a lot more control and accounting power over your companys IMs. In addition, LCS enables users to talk with AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger users.
But both the high-end solutions tend to be expensive and demanding.
LCS, for example, requires, in addition to its own software, that it run on a Server 2003 system with SQL Server 2000. And, of course, you have the costs of managing these high-end IM systems.
Its no wonder that many companies have looked to universal IM clients that enable their users to talk to other users on other IM networks.
For example, if all your customers are on AIM, but your IM users on your in-house network cant reach them, your IM solution isnt really that good.
Personally, I use Gaim all the time on both my Linux and Windows boxes.
Most of the business IM users use either Trillian or Gaim.
Besides enabling you to talk with people on most of the public IM systems, they offer more features then the single-use IM clients.