Critical Testing Criteria: Enterprise Microblogging

Here's what to look for when evaluating enterprise microblogging services or features.

Enterprise microblogging services can offer an organization's users a new way of collaborating with one another, of keeping tabs on important company information, and of staying up to date on the activities of partners, customers and others outside the organization. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating one of these services.

1. Desktop app support: Microblogging applications tend to be Web-based, but most also offer support for native desktop clients, which are available from either the vendor or third parties. Check to see what offline access to data and support for delayed status updating these client applications support. Also ensure that clients are available for the operating systems and OS versions you require.

2. Mobile app support: Status update services tend to offer a mobile component, in the forms of SMS text support, and of native clients for multiple smartphone platforms. Make sure that these clients are available for the device types deployed in your organization.

3. Directory and authentication: Look for microblogging services that integrate with your existing directory services to ease user provisioning and deprovisioning. Also, evaluate these services' capbabilities for providing single sign-on support, such as through SAML or OpenID.

4. Federation with other update systems: No piece of collaboration or communications software is an island. Avoid erecting new data silos and keep open the lines of communication with users outside your organization by seeking out microblogging services that support federation with other services. Make sure that the products offer controls for managing and, if needed, limiting this federation.

5. Integration with other applications: Along similar lines, organizations can get more value out of microblogging services if the products integrate with existing enterprise applications in their environments. This integration can take the form of status feeds that appear in CRM or collaboration pages, or of notifications from those systems that appear in the streams that microblogging systems expose.

6. API availability: Because it's unlikely that any microblogging system will offer points of integration with all an organization's applications and collaboration networks, it's important that these services offer APIs to enable company developers to take care of required integration operations.

7. Security: As with any company data and authentication credentials, security is an essential consideration. Make sure that data traveling over the network can be encrypted, and that authentication credentials never pass through the wire or the air in the clear.

8. Data export: Before funneling valuable data into a new microblogging service, evaluate the options the vendor offers for exporting this data, either for discovery and archiving purposes, or to import into a new system if your organization opts to switch services.