Facing the future with FaceTime's CEO

Opinion by Dan Raywood

I recently met Kailash Ambwani, the president and CEO of FaceTime, the company that will soon fully relinquish its name to Apple's VoIP technology now starring on the iPhone 4.

I recently met Kailash Ambwani, the president and CEO of FaceTime, the company that will soon fully relinquish its name to Apple's VoIP technology now starring on the iPhone 4.
Apple's adoption of the name certainly gave the company some welcome publicity but as Ambwani explained, there is more to the company than just putting a name to the face.
Claiming that FaceTime does ‘really sexy stuff', he said that the company's interest lies in instant messenger (IM), social networking and Web 2.0. All, he said, had proved challenging in recent times.
“We provide security and compliance for the new internet. Things we were concerned about ten years ago have now changed, it is now more complex with VoIP, Skype, IM, social networking and P2P. The perimeter in the enterprise has collapsed, the challenge now is how to secure all of this and manage compliance,” he said.
“The regulations are difficult to manage. We focus on privileged platforms for customers to allow them to get on with their jobs. We want to say: 'you worry about policy, we will worry about the challenge'.”
Ambwani said that the products it develops are targeted at large enterprises and financial services, with 65 per cent of the latter among its customers.
Offering applications and software to deploy inside the network, he said that there are two different types: one is inside the enterprise and is called 'Vantage'; while the other is a family of applications to monitor and manage and secure traffic called 'USG'. “This offers the same policy framework and allows robust reporting with a 360-degree view of activity,” he said.
Last month FaceTime launched the 'Socialite' module onto the USG, which gives control of management and compliance on social networking and is also available as a Software-as-a-Service application.
“You can get full visibility on what your employees are doing on Facebook, what games they are playing and how much time is spent on it. You can also set a policy on access, time and control and how much time spent on the platforms. A user can create a message on Facebook but it will require scanning before sending,” he said.
“This gives granular control, content monitoring – you can block a credit card number and can look inside the message. The challenge is controlling and monitoring in moderation and some financial regulators require that a post on a social networking site has to be pre-allowed, this system does that.
Large enterprises do want to enable these features. They want to use social networking because their customers are on these sites. With Socialite they can do that.”
Ambwani said that many companies are now using social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook for recruitment.
He added that Socialite can monitor outside activity on a blog or message board when a damaging or offensive comment is made against the brand.
Another key area for FaceTime is IM, which is where the company started. In the last couple of years IM has shifted into Unified Communications (UC) with Microsoft OCS, IBM Same Time and Cisco CUPS commonly used.
“Gartner predicts that in two to three years every email user will have a UC client and large enterprises see the benefit,” he said.
As for that new identity post-Apple, all Ambwani would tell me is that something would be announced in the next few months and it would be 'a sexy name'.


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