RealTime IT News

FIMA Looks Toward Interoperability

As corporate interest in enterprise instant messaging (IM) continues to peak, moves to secure and standardize networks are keeping pace with increasing regulatory requirements and general concerns that public IM networks are unsafe for businesses.

The Financial Services Instant Messaging Association (FIMA), created in 2002 to pressure vendors into standardizing IM software for compatibility, security and other business IT needs, held a roundtable Thursday in the Morgan Stanley offices in midtown Manhattan to discuss issues of interoperability and the future of the medium.

"Secure IM for business is important, because people don't want their corporate secrets leaking out via IM," Graham Lawlor, chairman of FIMA, said.

With IM increasing productivity, reducing communication costs and, in general, eliminating the headaches of handling multiple lines of communication, it has become an important tool for the financial industry.

But with numerous different clients used among traders and investors, there has been a push to force the vendors to come up with an open system that is interoperable.

Brian Curry, AOL's vice president of premium and subscription services, said his company is "really trying to do stuff that will move the needle in ways to address the needs of business" with new products like the Triton IM client.

But he believes there is a lot of dust to be cleared before a consensus on interoperability is reached.

"I don't see this thing settling and being decided in the short term," he told the group.

In addition to AOL, IM vendors Antepo, Communicator/HubIM, Jabber, IBM, Google, MSFT, Parlano and Reuters participated in the event.

Representatives of FIMA included Bank of America, Citigroup, Credit Suisse First Boston, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Prudential and UBS Warburg.

Rajen Sheth, enterprise product manager at Google , said Google Talk, its version of IM, is a very important step for the company.

"Google's mission is to organize the worlds information and provide access for a universal audience," he said. "We've done a good job so far, but there's a long way to go. What is most important, however, is the information that is communicated between people."

FIMA, which meets monthly, has placed support for SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), SIMPLE (SIP for Instant Messaging) and AMP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol and directory-based authentication, archiving and support for virtual domains) high on its list of priorities.

And, in a relatively short period of time, limited interoperability has made its way onto the landscape. Microsoft now uses the same protocol as IBM: SIP/SIMPLE.