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IM Remains An Enigma For IT

A survey indicates that almost 90% of companies have instant messaging traversing their networks but only a third have standardized on specific IM apps.
IT departments continue to struggle with how to get a handle on instant messaging.

Most IT departments acknowledge the use of IM by employees, and more than one-fourth are attempting to block it in lieu of turning to third-party management tools, according to a survey from messaging watchdog Osterman Research.

Among 102 companies with more than 1,000 employees, nearly 93% say they're either using or expect to use IM on their networks in the near future. Meanwhile, about 28% of those companies are blocking IM traffic, and just one-third have settled on one or more products as an IM standard.

Principal analyst Michael Osterman says IT departments are in a difficult situation. They can either allow use of consumer IM clients--often blamed for viruses and other network security issues--or they can block IM traffic. But blocking is a tricky proposition, not only because IM clients are creative in circumventing such blocks, but because such efforts also frequently impact Web access and Internet applications. Osterman says it's possible that companies are waiting to see if Microsoft's pending real-time communication server, code-named Greenwich and due later this year, will solve their IM problems.