AOL Launches Enterprise IM

Popular consumer software to provide instant messaging with authentication and routing controls for enterprises.

America Online Inc. today announced the release of its long-awaited enterprise instant messaging service.

Known as Enterprise AIM Services, the new service adds security and management services to AOLs market-leading consumer instant messaging service, AOL Instant Messenger. AIM, as the consumer version is know, has more than 180 million registered users and handles more than 1.5 billion instant messages a day, according to AOL officials, in Dulles, Va.

The centerpiece of todays release is the AIM Enterprise Gateway, a proxy between users inside and outside a companys firewall that allows enterprises to determine control of access, routing and permissions. It also provides logging, auditing and usage reporting with embedded technology from FaceTime Communications Inc.

AOL is also offering an optional Private Domain Service with Federated Authentication that lets companies maintain consistent user identities across corporate communications tools and centrally manage users from their corporate directory, AOL officials said.

In addition, America Online is offering a Developer Access Package and Certified Developer Program to support the extension of AIMs instant messaging and presence awareness technology to other applications. America Online is also working on an AIM client with encryption capabilities, which is currently in Beta, officials said.

AOL plans to offer both licensing and subscription options for the Enterprise AIM Gateway, which is available now. Fees will be on a per-seat basis with the cost-per-seat diminishing as the number of seats increases. Sources close to the company say tiered per-seat pricing will start at between $34 to $40 a seat.

AOL officials claim that the consumer AIM service is already used in 60 percent of businesses.

"With Enterprise AIM Services were providing organizations an instant messaging platform using a product thats familiar and easy-to-use with the added management and control features they want," said Jon Miller, chairman and CEO of AOL in statement.

AOL plans to further extend Enterprise AIM Services next year with support for sending encrypted instant messages that utilize security credentials issued by VeriSign Inc.

This story was updated after its original posting to include pricing information.