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.

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