An Evolution Toward Collaboration
Introduction Within the next few weeks, ServerWatch will offer links to reviews of instant messaging servers. For those not yet clear on the basics of instant messaging servers, we offer this overview compiled from articles previously published on CrossNodes.
The next generation of IM applications will also include important extensions to support corporate practices. IM implementations will lead to collaborative systems, and IT managers must take control of this emerging application. Extensions that IT managers should anticipate include:
Administrative Control: Offers policy management, logging, and configuration utilities that allow the IT manager to establish standard parameters and monitor activities. IT managers can control IM functions from a central console or remotely.
Application Sharing: Opens applications on a workstation so that multiple users can also run that application at the same time. Application sharing represents an important function as IM systems extend into collaborative applications.
Directory Integration: Integrates IM functions, which now use separate directories and address books, with network and workstation directories. In essence, directory integration allows IM software to function as part of the network rather than operate outside of the network.
Encryption: Protects transmissions during an IM session by encrypting the transmission stream. Encryption helps safeguard information, but transmissions are not protected under most IM software currently available.
Logging: Tracks exchanges during an IM session. These logs can be stored locally or centrally. If they are centrally collected, the logs enable IS managers to audit and control the use of IM technology.
Online Presence Management: Permits IT managers and users to control when and how IM software announces the workstation’s presence on the network. Online presence management provides an important safeguard against unauthorized intrusions and allows the user to better manage interruptions from IMs.
Video Support: Allows the transmission of real-time video from workstation to workstation. This is a key feature, as virtual meetings and IM communication seek broader acceptance.
Virtual Workspaces: Offers areas where workers can post documents, spreadsheets, or other information so that a group of workers can review and comment on the items simultaneously. When combined with support for voice and video, virtual workspaces provide an opportunity to create real-time electronic meetings.
Voice Support: Supports VOIP conferencing among multiple users. This application appeals to IT managers because of its ease-of-use and low cost.
Whiteboarding: Represents the capability to simultaneously share a graphic space among several users. Each user can access the graphic space and add comments or information. This can include collaborative documents accessed through word processors.