Enterprise IM strategies

Look for features such as encryption, scalability and recording capabilities

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The legal industry is taking the perspective that IM conversations are like phone calls and corporations don't need to get involved in recording everyone's sessions. An article in the Yale Law Review last year talks about differences in legal discovery issues for various electronic communications and concludes that there currently are no legal requirements for recording IM sessions.

Does the product offer persistent group chat rooms?

Group chat rooms have become the new corporate Intranet, the place where the collective knowledge of the company is shared and where immediate answers can be found for everything from customer support to what today's lunch specials are.

Some of the IM products, such as Parlano's MindAlign for LCS, Jabber Inc.'s Jabber Now, Lotus SameTime and Reuters Messaging are geared towards supporting persistent group chat sessions, meaning that the conversations can take place among multiple people and are recorded so that a user can review what has taken place when he or she is offline. "You want your group chat room to stay there and log everything, even when you aren't online," says David Uhlir, the vice president of marketing and product management at Jabber Inc.

Does the IM product tie into Active Directory or similar corporate directories?

Some of the products such as SameTime, Jabber Now and Microsoft's LCS can populate their user lists from the corporate directory structure, making their deployment relative painless. Others, such as Nakisa, Parlano and SameTime can search for particular organizational hierarchy, "One way to get adoption is to use SameTime to find people within an organization, like an Intranet. This takes IM beyond just conversations, and ties other functionality and business processes to it," says Saeedi.

Can the IM product block file transfers and protect against viruses?

Malware infections are on the rise for IM and now have their own name -- SPIM, for IM spam. Several products can be configured to block all file transfers among IM users or among particular groups, and there are several third-party protection vendors such as Akonix and Symantec's IMLogic that also offer additional security mechanisms for corporate IM users. "IM and e-mail both face similar challenges. Luckily with IM it is easier to prevent unwanted file transfers into your network," says Jones.

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