The Importance Of Presence: Taming The Wild And Woolly IM - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
2/28/2007
12:31 PM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
Commentary
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The Importance Of Presence: Taming The Wild And Woolly IM

"Presence" is one of the hottest ideas in software these days. Being able to see who's online and how they're connected is a necessary piece of functionality for enterprise networks as "real-time collaboration" (what we used to call "instant messaging" before it went corporate) has become the way to be productive. And for big companies, providing presence has been a security and compliance headache. The latest company to offer help is Sybase iAnywhere. Today it announced mobile instant messaging

"Presence" is one of the hottest ideas in software these days. Being able to see who's online and how they're connected is a necessary piece of functionality for enterprise networks as "real-time collaboration" (what we used to call "instant messaging" before it went corporate) has become the way to be productive. And for big companies, providing presence has been a security and compliance headache. The latest company to offer help is Sybase iAnywhere. Today it announced mobile instant messaging (IM) and presence capabilities for its Information Anywhere suite that supports email and applications across a variety of mobile devices and platforms.Historically presence has been one of those messy, user-driven technologies that IT departments hate. It started with public IM services like AOL's AIM and ICQ, technologies that put people in touch with each other instantly, but put what they were saying beyond the reach of corporate IT. Improvements came quickly. IBM Lotus Sametime was an early success at providing secure IM behind the firewall, and introduced presence almost as a by-product. A brand-new version of Sametime has made great improvements. And it seems like everybody is kicking the tires of Microsoft's Live Communications Server these days, although how many businesses are actually depending on it is an open question.

What iAnywhere Information Anywhere IM brings to this presence party are some neat new features, and a willingness to work with whatever you've got, both in terms of devices, and of IM services. It provides a single client that lets desktop and mobile users work through several services: enterprise IM systems IBM Lotus Sametime, Jabber XCP, Jabber Wildfire, Microsoft Live Communications Server and Reuters Messaging, and public services that use XMPP, which include Google Talk and Jabber. (Conspicuous in its absence: AOL Instant Messenger, which is beginning to look like it will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the very market it created.)

The benefit for users is that they can use multiple services and control their presence status in all of them with just one setting. The benefit for enterprises is that transmissions are secured, encrypted where they can be, and logged for compliance.

And the other great benefit for enterprises: the iAnywhere suite supports a "whatever you got" array of devices: Windows Mobile, Palm, BlackBerry and Symbian, and there's J2ME for others. The client can be downloaded and installed on mobile devices over the air, and users can maintain separate buddy lists for when they're at their desks or on the road.

The iAnywhere press release announcing Information Anywhere IM quotes the Gartner Group's Tom Eid's prediction that by 2010, 90 percent of business email users will also have IT-controlled IM accounts. That's a major change from just a few years ago, when IT departments were working to stamp out IM traffic, and shows how fast a good idea can travel -- and how fast products like Sametime and LCS and iAnywhere have tamed the wild and woolly IM and turned it to useful work in the enterprise.

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