Instant Gratification

Last Wednesday, Google unveiled its long-rumored Google Talk, a Windows IM and VoIP application. The freebie is available to those with Gmail accounts.

With Google initially focused on consumer IM, Oracle and Microsoft turned up the heat on business-oriented IM and presence applications. Oracle made available its delayed Collaboration Suite 10g with what it calls secure and enhanced Jabber-based IM and presence. That software offers no interoperability with the “public cloud” IM networks from America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft.

“We do not have federated IM,” said Bob Shimp, vice president of technology marketing for the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based database colossus. “We firmly believe you need a separate channel from any public IM system that enables IT departments to ensure they not only record but audit IM as mandated [by new regulations]. Federated systems open up a gigantic security hole.”

Microsoft offers federation to public IM from Yahoo, AOL and MSN via add-on software for Live Communications Server 2005, a combination Marc Sanders, senior product manager for Microsoft&s realtime collaboration group, said ensures secure connectivity.

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Last week, Microsoft countered the Google Talk launch with its MSN Messenger 7.5 update, which includes new audio clip capability and improved voice chat. It also posted free controls and sample code that VARs can use to presence- and IM-enable existing business applications.

Meanwhile, VoIP pioneer Skype said it will open up its platform to outside communities and developers wanting to use its service.

And at XChange &05 in Orlando, Fla., upstart R.B. Zack and Associates started recruiting VARs for IMiN, a private network IM package. The program offers three tiers of participation, and the minimum sales volume to join is $25,000, said Tim Martin, manager of sales and business development for the Torrance, Calif.-based company.

Some solution providers said IM is becoming a larger issue with enterprises.

“There&s a huge amount of demand for IM at the user level; unfortunately it&s not necessarily a good idea for a lot of companies to use IM outside a controlled system,” said Mark Diamond, CEO of Contoural, a Los Altos, Calif.-based IT consultancy. “Some are simply turning off [AIM], making it inaccessible from corporate, but they need to provide a viable alternative or users will find another way to IM, from their cell phone or whatever.”

People have to parse consumer/business use, agreed Paul Hernacki, CTO of Definition 6, an Atlanta Microsoft partner. “We do see a need for realtime monitoring of systems, and IM can be a route to that,” he noted. Microsoft is pushing its alerting control as one means of accomplishing this. Others are not convinced.

“For heads-down workers, IM&s just a distraction,” said George Brown, CEO of Database Solutions, Cherry Hill, N.J. Brown has IM but mostly ignores it. His on-screen icon reads: “I do not multitask.”