Microsofts Gurle: IM Must Move Beyond Itself

At the Instant Messaging Planet expo, David Gurle says it's time for IM to become a more ubiquitous enterprise application.

David Gurle, Microsoft Corp.s product unit manager for the companys forthcoming Greenwich real-time communications platform, said Tuesday that instant messaging needs to move beyond, well, instant messaging and become a more ubiquitous enterprise application.

Speaking at the Instant Messaging Planet Spring 2003 Conference and Expo in Boston, Gurle compared instant messaging to a teenager going through an identity crisis. To truly grow, instant messaging must have a "ubiquitous reach" into other applications, Gurle said. Instant messaging must be integrated into mobile and phone networks, he said, and become a part of vertical applications like trading and call center applications.

"If youre only thinking about IM and presence, thats not good enough. We can go beyond that," Gurle said. He said IM applications would have to share an information clearinghouse with other applications.

Many IM startups, while bringing strong products to market, arent grasping this, according to Gurle.

"All of these investments will go nowhere unless we understand and grasp the full scope of instant messaging and presence," he said. "If we do it right, there will be a lot of opportunities to make money for everyone."

For this to happen, according to Gurle, the current IM infrastructure would need to be "reinvented" and that over time enterprises would gain more control of IM from network providers.

In news at the show, IMlogic Inc. announced a security partner program to further extend its IM management software. The Waltham, Mass., company is building APIs that security vendors will be able to plug into. Partners include Sybari Software Inc. for virus scanning, Clearswift Ltd. for spam blocking and content filtering, and Asynchrony Solutions and CypherGuard Inc. for encryption.

Customers must license the respective products from these partners. The APIs should be completed by the second quarter, IMlogic officials said.

Cobra Technologies Inc. announced the addition of RDBMS support for its Lookup Bot for Lotus Sametime, a relational database lookup bot that allows users to access corporate relational databases through IBMs Lotus Software divisions Sametime IM client. Support is being offered initially for IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access databases, with more databases to follow.

Tallahassee, Fla.-based Cobra also released Journal Bot for Lotus Sametime, a bot that allows queries and updates to a Lotus Domino journal application. The Cobra bots appear as buddies in the Sametime Connect IM client and return results in the IM session from user-defined searches.

Natural Messaging Inc., meanwhile, announced its entry into the corporate IM space. The Portland, Ore., company develops an XML-based dialog technology that allows Lotus Sametime users to access data from enterprise applications via natural language IM queries.