America Online Inc. is offering an upgrade of its Enterprise AIM Services as a way for enterprises to take advantage of the real-time communications capabilities of instant messaging without opening up security holes or causing directory services integration headaches.
The Enterprise AIM Services upgrade, which was announced last week and doesnt have a version number, includes Version 5.2 of the AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) client, which supports encryption technology from VeriSign Inc. Users can obtain VeriSign digital certificates through AOL to encrypt instant messages, file transfers and chat sessions so that they cannot be read by nonauthorized users. Encrypted sessions can still be logged and audited by corporations, said AOL officials, in Dulles, Va.
The Enterprise AIM Services update also includes AIM Enterprise Gateway Version 2.0, which fully supports LDAP-compliant corporate directories, so AIM screen names can be mapped to employee IDs. This allows AIM permissions to be set by job title or department.
In addition, a Java-based SDK (software development kit) will enable developers to build and deploy AIM Enterprise Gateway-managed and AIM-enabled applications. AIM Enterprise Gateway embeds IM management technology from FaceTime Communications Inc.
AOL last month announced a partnership with FaceTime rival IMLogic Inc. that allows AIM traffic within enterprises to be managed, controlled and secured by IMLogics IM management technology.
While AOL is offering the capability for enterprises to expand their use of IM, some IT organizations are looking to use the tools to scale back IM usage. Lee Blackmore, director of IT at the St. Louis-based brokerage firm Stifel Nicolaus & Company Inc. has deployed IMLogics IM Manager to manage its 125 IM users, who use a mix of AIM, Yahoo Inc.s Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft Corp.s MSN Messenger. Blackmore said he has no plans for encryption or directory services integration, and, in fact, his companys main concern is keeping enterprise IM use in check.
“Upper management and IT are concentrating on eliminating IM, limiting e-mail usage and Internet access as a way to get more productivity from employees and protecting our network from viruses and spam,” Blackmore said.