FaceTime Aims Bigger

The vendor of IM management tools wants to establish itself in new vertical markets.
FaceTime Communications Inc., best known for providing instant-messaging management tools to financial-services companies looking to comply with records-archiving regulations, wants to establish itself in new vertical markets. The vendor has released its IM Director server, which essentially packages some of the basic management features that had been bundled into its IM Auditor compliance tool. The idea, CEO Glenn Vondrick says, is to let customers create a more modular IM management environment by starting with a broad, cross-enterprise platform.

IM Director links directly with a company's corporate directory, so an IT department can use it to apply policies and business rules to IM use throughout the company. IM Auditor, the latest version of which was unveiled Tuesday, becomes a more specialized compliance offering for companies contending with intensive regulation, such as those in financial services, insurance, or health care. Another new tool, IM Guardian, lets companies layer additional security around IM and other peer-to-peer technology, such as videoconferencing, streaming, or file sharing. Auditor and Guardian become part of a four-component suite—along with IM Presence Manager and IM Call Center—that runs on the IM Director server.

Vondrick says the new product packaging is the result of feedback from customers, who've made it clear they'd like to be able to apply more horizontal enterprise controls, such as directory identities, to their IM management efforts and that they want a security control panel that will help them monitor all types of real-time communications. That, and they want to be able to add only the capabilities they need. "We recognize that IM is rapidly growing, and there are a variety of ways people want to manage, secure, and control it."

Opening the door to new vertical markets while still offering the compliance-focused tools financial-services companies have begun to depend on is a good move for FaceTime, says Michael Osterman, principal analyst for Osterman Research. Companies across all industries are in need of any tools that help them maintain electronic communications records, he says, especially if regulations ultimately could apply not only to willful destruction of records, but also to negligence from not using available archiving tools. Says Osterman, "Who knows how Sarbanes-Oxley is going to be interpreted by the courts?"

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