Modernizing Authentication ? What It Takes to Transform Secure Access
Although they've made their names in instant messaging compliance and call center/help desk applications, respectively, IMlogic and Vayusphere are two of the latest players in the IM space to ramp up the security quotient of their product lines.
After having been in the works since late last year, Mountain View, Calif.-based Vayusphere last week took the wraps off its Managed IM Gateway, which imposes auditing, archiving, reporting and blocking features on top of public IM use within the enterprise -- similar to competing offerings from FaceTime Communications and Akonix.
Also like those vendors' offerings, businesses using Vayusphere Managed IM Gateway can control employees' access to and privileges on the public networks. Workers' ability to connect to and share files across America Online's AOL Instant Messenger, Microsoft's .NET Messaging Service and Yahoo! Instant Messenger networks are determined by privileges set in LDAP corporate directory entries, which the Gateway maps to their public IM usernames, and enforced by routing IM streams through the Gateway's SOCKS5 proxy.The Gateway offers real-time filtering to alert supervisors when employees use specific flagged keywords. Reporting provides details on usage and traffic, down to the level of actual conversations.
The offering is intended to work in tandem with Vayusphere's chief products -- a behind-the-firewall enterprise IM system and it's flagship offering, an automated, enterprise application-to-IM integration system dubbed IRiS. The company also offers ready-built IRiS implementations designed for Remedy Help Desk, Computer Associates' Unicenter Service Desk and Siebel Field Service.Vayusphere Chief Executive Pushpendra Mohta said the new Managed IM Gateway addressed businesses' needs to connect with outside parties over Internet-based IM, which hadn't been possible under its enterprise offering.
"Corporate IM behind the firewall is mostly targeted at to employee-to-employee communications within the enterprise," he said. "But there are certain circumstances in which employees want to talk to partners and customers outside the firewall, and the only way to do that is to use a public IM system. Our corporate instant messaging product addresses the need for employee-to-employee communications, although given that you have to use public IM to reach out to partners and customers, this just ensures the security of across-the-firewall communications."
Meanwhile, IMlogic, an early mover in the public IM logging and auditing space, earlier this week unveiled the upcoming version of its flagship IM Manager product, slated to ship in a month.
The Waltham, Mass.-based company's IM Manager 5.0 adds anti-spam and anti-virus protection, unauthorized client-blocking, as well as keyword-based blocking that can be configured to inform superiors or compliance officers when a flagged word is used during an IM conversation. The earlier iteration, version 4.1, provided reporting, archiving, and authentication against corporate LDAP directories.
"It's basically an offering that we have designed in response to our enterprise customers telling us they need a comprehensive security solution for IM traffic," said Jon Sakoda, director of products at the firm. "IM Manager today centralizes IM traffic for an enterprise -- captures through our management server. Now, we're are offering ... anti-virus, anti-spam and security features to IM traffic, so people have an out-of-the-box solution for protecting themselves."
"It does more intelligent routing of IM traffic, to protect against viruses. Also new is the ability to be more intelligent about how IM is deployed, so you don't need to open up inbound ports in your DMZ to support IM traffic -- you're protected from attacks like the Slammer worm. We're also enforcing content filtering rules -- useful for detecting whether or not IM us being used for business purposes."
As with Vayusphere's new offering, IMlogic's IM Manager 5.0 brings important new security measures into the company's offerings.
It also will serve as the launching pad for a series of security-related partnerships announced by the firm in late February. Although the partnerships -- with Sybari Software, Clearswift, Asynchrony Solutions and Cypherguard -- duplicate several of IM Manager 5.0's new features, the deals are designed to enable clients to plug into the gateway third-party vendors of their choosing.
"We are doing things like providing out-of-the-box anti-virus tools, but if you wanted to incorporate a best-of-breed solution from Sybari, you would be able to do so from IM Manager," Sakoda said. "Some of our enterprise customers have selected a Sybari or Clearswift as a provider of anti-virus, anti-spam or content filtering, and they would want to see those used in IM as well."
While IMlogic's new offering builds on earlier, more compliance-focused editions of its product, Vayusphere faces the task of striking out in new territory for the firm -- territory established as the reserve of players like Akonix and FaceTime that offer public IM regulation tools, not to mention recent offerings by the IM networks themselves.
But Vayusphere expects to find success by continuing its concentration on selling into call center-type service markets, and already has deployed within a company's call center.
"There are a number of companies out there," Mohta said. "But this [solution] is suited as part of a portfolio of products tailored to the call center and help desk space. That's the market we're targeting with this product."
In addition to selling the product directly, Vayusphere plans to sell Gateway licenses through ISVs and outsourced security service providers -- accordingly, it also has a service provider that is offering a solution based on the Managed IM Gateway.
"We have been seeing a lot of demand from ISVs and other service providers to get a product they could sell either as private-label, or something they could make part of their managed firewall services," Mohta said. "The product was designed to be pretty OEM-able."
For IMlogic, it's new upgrade will help it better compete with players like upstart Akonix -- which has since last fall offered content filtering and blocking of unauthorized or unauthenticated IM protocols in its L7 products. In January, FaceTime, IMlogic's biggest rival in the financial services compliance sector, also began expandingfrom its IM Auditor product's core capabilities to begin offering content filtering and directory-based messaging privileges enforcement.