Yahoo Business Messenger Bears Some of the Burden

 
 
By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2003-11-10
 
 
 
Yahoo Inc.s Yahoo Business Messenger 2.0 service is a well-designed combination of service and software that minimizes some of the overhead of instant messaging.

Priced at $30 per user per year, Yahoo Business Messenger delivers good value for companies that dont want to invest in an IM infrastructure. Theres a good deal to like in the product, including very granular control of client features from a Web-based administration console and integration with existing company directories.

That directory integration comes at some additional cost, however, and companies will need to allocate IT resources to running the Java-based administration Web server on-site. (By years end, Yahoo will introduce a fully hosted version of the service.)

Yahoo manages the service by provisioning accounts for users against a domain name—that is, against the address convention of user@companyname.com. Companies manage users via a Web-based administration console that synchronizes Yahoo accounts against the companys LDAP directory.

Users must be added via the directory and then synchronized, but deletions can be performed from the administrative console. Directory information can also be grabbed from a Java Database Connectivity-compliant source, if a company doesnt want to give all users access to the service. One feature we would have liked here is a list of account names on the Yahoo service.

There are a number of client management features that will allow companies to closely manage and customize the end-user experience. We could configure accounts to allow or disallow the linking of personal Yahoo accounts with a users corporate account. Linking the accounts gives a user the ability to communicate using the consumer client but displaying the corporate domain name ID to other users.

We could also add or remove the tabs that provide access to news, stock quotes and weather. The service provides a direct link to WebEx Communications Inc.s Web conferencing service as well, so companies that opt to use that Web conferencing service now have one-click access to their meeting space.

We would have liked a little more granularity in terms of enabling and disabling the service. Currently, it can be turned on or off for all users rather than for a defined list of users.

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