Enterprise Instant Messenger
Strengths: Very intuitive, yet comprehensive IM security solution
Weaknesses: Bandwidth and storage limits could be reached more quickly than we expected
Verdict: An excellent offering
Enterprise Instant Messenger from MessageLabs is a comprehensive hosted security solution for IM. We were provided with a simple ten-user license evaluation version of the system.
At the heart of the product is a hosted administration tool that is extremely intuitive and easy to use. From here we were able to access all aspects of management, establish policies, add users and view relevant reports.
When we had accessed the administration console, we immediately added a user to our domain and set him up with access to Microsoft IM alone. The administration program then emailed our new user with instructions for how to download the required client software and login to the service.
The client software is called Professional Online Desktop (POD) and is an excellent approach to instant messaging security. As administrator we could assign which networks the user could access (Microsoft IM, AOL or Yahoo or any combination of these), all of which is then done through the user's version of POD rather than the third-party applications. It allows for much greater control over security. Users can be added to the configuration module through a batch file as a comma-separated values document, allowing users to be imported into the system very quickly.
Rules for IM usage are easily established in the management console through IP address restrictions, which can be applied to the individual user or domain. Most of the configuration is carried out under the edit domain section, where we were able to set rules on which applications could be used. We could also stipulate password restrictions, lockout settings, logging settings, whether and to what extent file sharing is allowed, registration email settings and even the branding that users would see on their POD client software.
The history of IM conversations can be easily searched through the administration console, alerts sent to individuals and groups of users, and hugely impressive reporting capabilities are also included as standard.
Overall, it is difficult to fault the MessageLabs approach to IM security. It is extremely intuitive and easy to use, yet covers all the basic security essentials and more