RealTime IT News

SMB's Get Some IM Facetime

If software security play FaceTime Communications has any say about it, enterprise grade instant messaging security packages are no longer just the province of large enterprises.

On Tuesday, the company unveiled its RTShield product, an IM and P2P-based security package geared for the small to medium business segment.

RTShield is a small form factor network appliance that follows on its previously-released RTG500 for larger enterprises. FaceTime's appliance utilize a so called defense-in-depth methodology that helps distinguish between malicious and benign IM/P2P use, by way of both application behavior and policy management.

The release is also a sign of AOL's latest strategic direction with its enterprise IM offerings after the ISP giant recently decided to end sales and support of its own AIM Enterprise Gateway.

The offering from FaceTime, which was the first company to license AOL's IM platform, includes 10 seats for one year on AOL's AIM Identity Services. The identity services allow for extended functionally with AIM by allowing screen names to be matched with real corporate e-mail addresses.

It allows for on-premises hosted editions that allow local corporate authentication of users. Other security features include Identity Services with support for encrypted IM communications and digital certificates.

The offering arrives just as the enterprise IM space has thinned out recently, with Yahoo!'s exit from the enterprise space, as well as AOL's strategic shift away from IM management for enterprise customers.

In this release, FaceTime is an AIM Certified Application partner, and said it would work with AOL to help manage customers' enterprise IM needs as AOL winds down AIM Enterprise Gateway.

Christopher Dean, FaceTime's senior vice president of marketing, said the joint announcement between the two companies is intended to help alleviate any confusion that might exist about AOL's exit from enterprise IM.

Essentially, the companies said that FaceTime is an AOL partner on many levels, that they continue to work together in the IM space.

"There is no heir," Dean told internetnews.com. "FaceTime is the obvious choice due to shared technology base. AIMEG (America Online Instant Messaging Enterprise Gateway) is our OEM'ed technology."

"Securing, managing and extending IM and P2P in the small and medium enterprise has, to date, been prohibitively expensive and complicated," said Kailash Ambwani, FaceTime president and CEO, in a statement. "With the introduction of RTShield, small businesses can now safely embrace IM and other forms of legitimate real-time communications, while blocking P2P and meeting all corporate and regulatory compliance guidelines."

Ferris Research Analyst Ben Littauer said he doubts there will be any confusion among customers between AOL's offering and FaceTime's. "The AOL enterprise offering did not gain a lot of market penetration, primarily, we believe, because of AOL's position as a consumer-focused provider," Littauer told internetnews.com.

"AOL's withdrawal from the enterprise market tends to legitimize the third party vendors, including FaceTime, and give them more long-term viability."

In the research firm's view, enterprise IM will continue to grow rapidly. "The genie is out of the bottle and will not go back," Littauer said. "In addition, with the spam problem at the level it is, email is becoming a much less "immediate" medium than it once was, and we expect that IM will take over a small percentage of communications that would previously have been email."