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January 04, 2006
It's Time For Another Look At IM Federation

With all the year-end and New Year IM network attacks and threats of attacks, perhaps it is time for another look at instant messaging federation, especially if your users are becoming avid IM hounds while you are trying to discourage internal use of consumer IM services on your network.

While secure, real-time collaboration and presence are valued capabilities, you've learned the hard way through your experience with corporate e-mail systems that company communications need to be be authorized, and based on trusted relationships. At the same time, you can't make verification so onerous to users that it defeats the simple, real-time nature of IM.

That is were federation comes in and Maxime Seguineau, CEO and chairman of
provided a detailed look at federation, its benefits and its alternatives. In this week's feature story,
Setting A Course Toward Instant Messaging Federation, Seguinea explains the various federation models for enterprise IM, from closed, VPN-like networks to third-party
clearinghouses.

Enterprise IT managers have moved slowly with IM federation, but after their experience with e-mail and the various regulations now governing the way messages must be retained and managed, it's not surprising. And like with e-mail, users will force their hands, probably sooner than is comfortable. But Seguineau is optimistic, and feels that with the hindsight of all the e-mail debacles, the security concerns will prevail and the quality of traffic over IM networks will be much higher than that of e-mail.

I hope that is, indeed, the case because
IM is gaining ground on e-mail as the dominant form of messaging, according to a recent IDC report.

Teenagers and young adults already use IM more often than e-mail and as more of their numbers enter the workforce, we can expect their messaging habits to rub off on co-workers.

Over the next 10 years, the volume of e-mail is expected to decline, according to IDC, but e-mail will still be a popular communications tool. In fact, in 2006, IDC expects the volume of business e-mail will exceed 3.5 exabytes. To translate in more familiar data size measurements, that's roughly equal to 1 billion gigabytes.

Meanwhile, IM still promises to be a hazardous playground for the uninitiated and/or careless user. Those who opened instant messages with the subject head "MSN Messenger 8 Working BETA" found out the hard way that Microsoft didn't really "leak" a beta version of Windows Live Messenger. The messages, when opened, offered a link and clicking on the link to download and run the executable actually installed the Virkel.f Trojan.

And finally, spending on mobile, wireless devices will continue to rise in 2006. According to a recent GCR Custom research enterprise spending survey, enterprises will spend 8.1 percent more on mobile devices in 2006. If you haven't already, its time to set some polices and rules governing the purchase and secure usage of these devices. They are becoming yet another client in the expanding array of messaging devices, and they will have to managed as such.

Posted by Mitch Irsfeld at 11:21 AM | Permalink

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