America Online Inc. will begin beta testing this month an encrypted version of its AOL Instant Messenger service targeted to enterprises.
The service, to be known as Enterprise AIM, will be sold to corporations, a company spokesman confirmed Friday, though the spokesman, Marty Gordon, declined to say when the encrypted service will be available.
VeriSign Inc. will provide the encryption technology, which AOL will deliver to corporations through its network, Gordon said, in Mountain View, Calif. He confirmed that 20 percent to 25 percent of AIM users today are corporate users.
But corporate users of instant messaging will likely require more than encryption to deliver a true enterprise-class instant messaging service.
"The real issue, for us isnt specifically encrypting the communication, though that is an option we absolutely need for some communications," said David Moskowitz, CIO/CTO of Productivity Solutions Inc. in Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
Moskowitz rattled off a list of capabilities his organization needs for IM that AIM currently doesnt provide: auditing and logging of messages; more presence detection capability than AOL currently supports; automatic, customizable responses to specific messages or queries; customizable alerts for certain events; and even a user-definable interface to a two-way mobile device.
"Encryption helps, but that is just one of our requirements," said Moskowitz, who previously evaluated AIM, Microsoft Corp.s Windows Messenger and Yahoo Messenger, but found all lacking in security and/or stability to be suited for business use in his organization.
Still, Moskowitz described AOLs move as a "potential step in the right direction."
Gordon said AOL plans to add other technologies, like logging and archiving, to help corporations manage AIM better.
"I would say this is the first in a series of solutions were considering," he said. "[Encryption] is an example of what enterprises have been asking us for, and were listening to their needs."
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