Commentary
9/9/2005
11:59 AM
Mitch Irsfeld
Mitch Irsfeld
Commentary

Enterprise IM: Get Used To It

When the Radicati Group released its five-year projections for the instant messaging market yesterday, the biggest news wasn't in the growth numbers, which call for a steady increase in worldwide IM traffic through 2009. More intriguing were the vendors present for a panel discussion and what they see as the opportunities that the growth numbers represent.



When the Radicati Group released its five-year projections for the instant messaging market yesterday, the biggest news wasn't in the growth numbers, which call for a steady increase in worldwide IM traffic through 2009.

More intriguing were the vendors present for a panel discussion and what they see as the opportunities that the growth numbers represent.When the Radicati Group released its five-year projections for the instant messaging market yesterday, the biggest news wasn't in the growth numbers, which call for a steady increase in worldwide IM traffic through 2009.

More intriguing were the vendors present for a panel discussion and what they see as the opportunities that the growth numbers represent.

For enterprise IM, which Radicati breaks out as a separate market, the technology needs to continue its destiny of integarting with other enterprise systems, according to Jon Sakoda, chief technology officer and vice president of products with Imlogic. "IM is becoming a core communications mechanism for consumbers, but in the enterprise, IM needs to integrate with the other parts of the enterprise.

But there are two parts to the integration. With increased focus on federations and gateways, this type of integration allows disparate IM systems to communicate with each other. But there is also needed integration with other collaboration technologies and operational systems.

And that won't happen, according to Akonix Systems chief technology officer, Francis Costello, until companies can trust IM as an enterprise class initiative. "To do that, they need to address security, compliance and performance."

"Everyone realizes that the market readiness is increasing," said Brian Curry, senior director of AIM Network Services for America Online, "and now with Federation technology we are staring to connect disparate technologies."

In a teleconference highlighting its 2005 report on IM market, the Radicati Group pegs the worldwide number of IM accounts today at 867 million, and estimates 51 million of those are enterprise accounts. And the number of instant messages sent per day will increase from 13.9 billion today to 46.5 billion IMs per day in 2009. The majority of those messages will still travel over public IM networks, but the traffic will increase accordingly for enterprise IM, from 1.4 billion IMs per day this year to 7 billion per day in 2009, according to the Radicati Group.

Paul Duffy, Microsoft senior product manager, RTC, said IT departments are still struggling to gain back control of IM, but the big change is that IT now appreciates the business value that IM can bring. "They may have to change the infrastructure so they have control of it, and they'll want to integrate with applications that are already there," he said.

"The whole cost/benefit analysis still looms large," said AOL's Curry. " There are often multiple IM systems I play within organizations, as departments have adopted them for different needs, so federation will help with some of their [IT's] objections."

Akonix's Costello agrees. "There is a knowledge gap about how much IM is already in the enterprise and what its potential value might be, he said. "Just as there is a knowledge gap about the potential threats to the organization. Part of it is cultural. It is still new and they don't see yet how it can integrate with other technologies and provide value."

Radicati's lead IM analyst Matt Anderson said in his presentation that such value is starting to show in the new functionality being integrated with enterprise IM, including audio/video conferencing, presence, and voice over IP, to the point where IM offerings are starting to look like collaboration suites.

Anderson also said the growth in enterprise IM will mean growth for IM management vendors that sell solutions for dealing with the growing number of IM-borne virus and worm attacks, and regulations that require organizations to monitor and retain instant messages as they would e-mail or other business communications.

But Imlogic's Sakoda thinks the barriers to enterprise IM are overblown. "It's hard to talk about barriers when it's already in the enterprise," he said. "It might be there because someone downloaded a free client from the Web, but its there and no one believes they'll go another two or three years without deploying an enterprise IM platform. IT knows this because IT employees are the among the most avid users of the technology."When the Radicati Group released its five-year projections for the instant messaging market yesterday, the biggest news wasn't in the growth numbers, which call for a steady increase in worldwide IM traffic through 2009. More intriguing were the vendors present for a panel discussion and what they see as the opportunities that the growth numbers represent.

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