Concentric Offers Secure Messaging for SMBs

The informal method of instant messaging is getting a security upgrade thanks to Concentric.

Instant messaging has been a boon for small business communication. Free programs such as AIM or Google Chat can instantly connect entire offices and employees in far-flung locations. Like text messaging, instant messaging allows for concise, quick communication that can save your business time and help avoid other costly communication technologies.

San Jose, Calif.-based hosted IT solutions firm Concentric, a unit of XO Communications, is signaling to midmarket companies it thinks it has the solution to take "IMing" to the next level.

On Monday the company announced the release of Concentric Business Messenger, an encrypted, fully managed messaging and collaboration solution designed for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). All communications via Concentric Business Messenger are Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypted and allows midmarket customers to restrict communications just to people in the organization.

"Concentric Business Messenger is part of our continued strategy to provide our SMB customers with enterprise-class applications at affordable prices," said Concentric President Craig Collins. "A growing concern for SMBs is the increase in instances where worms or viruses enter their network through a public instant messaging network."

Collins said by using Concentric Business Messenger, SMBs can have the benefits of chat without the risks while enabling employees to stay connected in the office and on the go. Concentric Business Messenger is based on the open standard XMPP for compatibility with a variety of chat clients, and offers features such as private chat rooms and profile-enabled contact groups.

The service is bundled with Concentric's Hosted Microsoft Exchange at no additional charge. For other users, Business Messenger can be added on for $1 per user per month. Business Manager is also integrated with the Concentric Gateway, allowing simplified administration and reduced operational costs when combined with Concentric e-mail, Web hosting, or suite of Hosted IT services.

Osterman Research President Michael Osterman said using public chat or instant messaging services in a professional setting poses information security risks to the company that a service such as Concentric's can help avoid.

"With public chat services, anyone can create a username that sounds like any company employee and can access private company information by posing as someone else," he said. "Concentric Business Messenger allows IT managers to restrict instant messaging to just between company employees, ensuring that company information is kept private and secure."