Enterprise-calibre IM gains ground

As IM (instant messaging) becomes deeply entrenched in enterprise communications -- with or without the support of the IT department, issues are beginning to emerge about security and control of the products.

Eyeing the growing ranks of these corporate IM users, software vendors WiredRed Software Inc. and Ezenia Inc. are readying messaging systems designed to address enterprise needs for security and manageability.

WiredRed Software this week rolled out Version 3.0 of its e/pop IM application set aimed at corporate users. Next month, Ezenia plans to introduce its InfoWorkSpace collaborative toolkit to the corporate market.

According to Dana Gardner, research director at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston, it is critical that corporations try to corral their users into using an IT-sanctioned IM system.

"It is more important than ever that IM be recognized as a fundamental bedrock of communication and be centralized and administered properly," Gardner said. "This is becoming even more essential because presence and directory information inherent in IM is being strategically tapped for such things as Web services and presence-oriented collaboration."

WiredRed's e/pop 3.0 deepens the traditional IM function of text-based chat to include features such as online presence management, application sharing, encryption, VOIP (voice over IP) conferencing, and directory integration. In addition, e/pop allows IT managers to retain administrative control of the system using remote control or centralized management and configuration, according to WiredRed officials.

IM tools are currently being used in corporate environments, but most of the consumer-based systems in widespread use lack security and the ability to leverage the corporate network, said Allen Drennan, president and CEO at WiredRed, in San Diego.

"Corporations aren't realizing that the consumer tools are widely deployed in their organizations, and sensitive information is being sent over the Internet unprotected," Drennan said. "Different from consumer products, e/pop has enterprise-level features of directory integration, centralized management, and encryption for security and privacy."

Palo Alto, Calif.-based law firm Cooley Godward has been using WiredRed's e/pop product for two years. The firm relies heavily on real-time communication tools to coordinate projects among 675 attorneys spread out across eight geographically dispersed offices, according to Richard Ho, manager of IT at Cooley Godward.

"Our firm is using WiredRed's real-time communications software to facilitate meetings and employee training across disparate offices, which reduces the need for travel and maximizes productivity," he said.

Ho said the e/pop remote control feature allows the IT department to quickly respond to and resolve desktop support issues with IM.

Meanwhile, Ezenia's InfoWorkSpace will combine IM, whiteboarding, and virtual workspaces with voice and video functionality to enhance distributed project development, according to Ezenia officials.

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