Picking Up the IM Pieces

Yahoo, AOL exits get Microsoft on move.

The retreat of Yahoo Inc. and America Online Inc. from the enterprise instant messaging space means that enterprises looking to manage their growing use of public IM networks will need to look elsewhere.

Microsoft Corp., the last of the three large public IM network providers with an enterprise platform, plans to strengthen integration between its MSN Messenger IM service and its LCS (Live Communications Server) enterprise IM server.

The Redmond, Wash., companys LCS 2005, which is due by years end, will not require a third-party gateway to connect to MSN Messenger Connect for Enterprises, the enterprise version of Microsofts consumer IM service. Microsoft officials said the integration could change the licensing of both products but declined to say how.

Francis deSouza, CEO of IMlogic Inc., which provides IM logging, auditing and security technology to Microsoft, said he expects to see Messenger Connect integrated with LCS in the future, although he said there is still a place for Messenger Connect in the small-business space.

IM by the numbers


of all enterprises in North America use some form of IM


million IM users projected worldwide by 2008


IMs sent or received by the average corporate user per day


of corporations surveyed log enterprise IM


billion instant messages sent per day projected by years end

Source: The Radicati Group Inc.

"For companies that dont want or arent able to run their own IM server, a hosted offering like MSN Messenger Connect is still viable," deSouza said.

Messenger Connect includes message logging and archiving capabilities from IMlogic and FaceTime Communications Inc. and is designed to let MSN Messenger users interface with corporate IM networks.

AOL, of Dulles, Va., announced last week it will no longer sell its AIM Enterprise Gateway service and will migrate customers to IMlogics IM Manager tool. That announcement came just three days after Yahoo, of Sunnyvale, Calif., announced it will no longer sell its Yahoo Messenger Enterprise Edition product.

FTN Financial uses IMlogics IM Manager to log IM traffic, mainly for regulatory compliance reasons, and to block viruses. The Memphis, Tenn., companys 250 internal IM users and its customers use a variety of consumer IM clients, so FTN found it easier to license IMlogics software rather than specific enterprise IM offerings from AOL, Yahoo or Microsoft, said Tommy Wright, vice president and manager of IS development at FTN.

"We really couldnt lock into one platform," Wright said.


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