Employees of most companies use instant messaging, either at home or at work. These systems are often provided free of charge by companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Google and as such there are a few issues that IT Managers need to be aware of if they are used in the workplace.
These issues revolve, not surprisingly, around IT security and compliance. These free of charge solutions are only free because they are supported by advertising so you have to ask yourself if the business owners are OK with these vendors running advertising campaigns through to their staff.
On the security issue there are various threats, for example, the pushing down to users of links to phishing and spam web sites, spin (IM spam) and links to trojans or viruses. These are issues you may have under control with email but have you with IM?
Whilst there isn’t a large amount of spam in these communication channels any content control or DLP rules an organisation has for their email arguably need to be duplicated in their IM and microblogging solutions to ensure matching levels of security and legal protection.
Some industry verticals are heavily legislated and are required to not just archive emails and phone calls but often all electronic communications, this includes IM. If you’re using free public IM services are how are you archiving these, and if you are can your search and retrieve conversations?
Many of the above issues can be addressed by deploying a business IM platform that’s designed to address a lot of the above issues. There area few proprietary systems delivered by companies like Microsoft and IBM but the ideal platform is one that interoperates with other IM systems, just like email does. You don’t want an IM system that’s siloed do you. This is where XMPP (or Jabber) IM comes in.
Jabber IM is a niche of the managed hosting and security market. Organisations who have bought into managed email and email security/compliance need to apply similar services and solutions to IM and microblogging that they do with email.
In jurisdictions that legislate in a way that almost enforces email archiving the relevant law often talks about electronic communication which again means that archiving and e-discovery solutions deployed for email need to be replicated within an organisations IM and microblogging platforms.
So the message we try to get across to SMB’s and SME’s is that whilst they may have deployed adequate security and compliance technologies for email many still have holes in their security and compliance polices in the area of IM and microblogging.
Add to this the Jabber road map which covers voice and video (all XMPP based) and already includes group chat (think text mode Google+ Huddle) then XMPP is ideally positioned to deliver a comprehensive communication and collaboration platform with the security and compliance pieces baked in, rather than added on via point purchases.