MessageLabs Enterprise Instant Messaging review

Price when reviewed

Instant-messaging applications can be both a blessing and a curse for an organisation. On the one hand, it enables workers in different locations to collaborate; on the other, it provides a potential security risk to the network. The security risks may lead an organisation to ban the use of IM clients, even though it could reduce staff productivity in areas such as technical support and program development, who then have to fall back to using expensive conference calls and email instead. MessageLabs Enterprise Instant Messaging software offers a solution to this conundrum by providing a secure encrypted IM system using its own servers and software.

MessageLabs Enterprise Instant Messaging review

The Omnipod Professional Online Desktop (POD) is the key to the system, providing its own integrated IM client. Once installed on a client computer, this handles IM communications between the desktop and the secure servers, encrypting and decrypting the traffic as needed. As a further security measure, all traffic is scanned at the servers for viruses and other malware.

However, POD isn’t simply a secure IM client. It provides active contact lists that can indicate the online availability of any contact, and it can also link to email and file-transfer facilities. This simplifies the process of emailing session transcripts and distributing files to participants, and should help to ensure that no-one is left out of the loop.

POD can also operate with WebEx, allowing you to set up meetings and invite selected contacts to participate without leaving the POD interface. Attendees will be notified by email or IM message as required. The software can also send SMS messages to contacts that aren’t online, so that an employee may be out of the office but not necessarily out of contact.

There are times when it may be necessary to communicate with someone using another IM service. The POD software can also communicate with other IM clients including MSN, Yahoo and AOL, avoiding the need to install IM clients for these services. In this case, communications are only encrypted and scanned between the POD software and the servers, while the traffic between the other clients and the servers isn’t. This is a security benefit, because sessions are logged and can be retrieved and examined later.

Administration and management-reporting features are available via a web browser using secure connections. The administration interface provides access to all aspects of the system’s operation, allowing the administrator to create users and domains, examine communication logs, send network alerts and set up restrictions on IP address ranges. The reporting system provides usage statistics by domain and user over variable time periods, and the results can be displayed in the browser, stored for later retrieval, or exported as Excel spreadsheet files for offline storage and processing.

MessageLabs EIM system offers secure communications at a reasonable cost, and provides an organisation with the tools to manage and control this useful facility.

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