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THOUGHT: Google Talk might be(come) the right tool for your corporate
Posted by Arne Hess - on Thursday, 25.08.05 - 20:38:55 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 14847x
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Okay, I hope not too many system administrators are reading this ;-) but I want to rant about Google Talk as well, as so many did during the past 36 hours (looks like the whole blogsphere as well as the Internet is knowing one topic only at the moment) already.
I don't know how it is with your (business) contacts but many of my contacts (mostly the one outside Europe but in the US and Asia) are using Instant Messaging services to stay with their colleagues or clients in touch but what I've seen so far from most European companies - they don't support or even allow to use IM clients on office PCs. For some reasons, most (European? - how is your company treating this topic) companies still think IM is something for teens only and they are chatting just private stuff - which isn't true at all. With most of my contacts (except some real good friends for sure) I'm mostly chatting business related and it's a fast and easy way. It's like an E-Mail but as fast as a phone call.

As I said, the companies I've worked for (either as an employee or as a consultant) haven't IM clients installed nor they do support them nor they allow the use of and I'm not sure for which reason? Viruses? No way, today's anti virus scanners also tracks IMs; sharing secret information? Maybe but I can better share secret information via phone or even better in the evening with a beer in my hands; Smuggling documents out of the company? Could be but I can also burn a CD-ROM, connect my iPod or just take the HDD in the evening with me to copy it at home so what's the reason?

At the bottom, I believe most IT managers haven't caught the message and value of IM in business environments yet but users have already (which is my experience anyway that the customers get the message long time before companies picks it up).

But why could Google Talk become *the* IM solution for corporate use? The answer is simple: users can install and configure it themselves without any problems - basically on any computer or PC (yet):

  • Google gives nothing to the Windows Admin privileges which means you can install Google Talk without any problems, even if you don't have the rights to change the system clock (like with my office PC). However I can install basic programs for my work (which doesn't requires Admin privileges) and Google Talk is such a basic program.
  • Google Talk also works fine through a fully firewall-protected network - without any problems. Today, after I've installed it and tried to sign-in I got an error notification that Google Talk wasn't able to connect with the server. Than I've simply tried our web proxy server settings including http port and after Google Talk connected fine.
  • Since Google Talk is using the open Jabber protocol and you can basically find a Jabber client for every computer system or mobile device, you can connect from everywhere with any computer or mobile device! Windows, Mac, Linux/Windows Mobile, Symbian, Palm - it doesn't matter (and if there is no (working) client available yet, it's just a question of time) since you decide if you want to stay connected or not, not your IT department!

The only problem I've figured out is VoIP isn't working because a) it's not going through the firewall and b) i have no micro on my PC or better said the micro is disabled by the system configuration. But that's fine for me since I still have a phone on my desk and if the company wants to pay for the long distance call, why should I have a problem with this decision?

At least Google Talk brings connects me back to my contacts and I can continue to chat with them  *about business related topics* - I'm not saying here you should abuse it for your personal fun (like you shouldn't abuse your phone for personal calls or your Internet connection to plan your next holidays).
And as long as Google Talk stays that slim and simple - it will stay on my PC! What I don't need, neither on my home PC but even less on my office PC are this full featured colorful, ad driven IM clients. Google Talk is just perfect here (today).

How do you use IM in a corporate environment? Are you connected to your colleagues and are you allowed to use IM services?

Cheers ~ Arne


Related Articles Google Talk

Posted by commander66 on 26.08.05 - 00:47:51

I am an IT-Manager in a medium sized company with about 30 offices worldwide. We use Lotus Notes and use the integrated Sametime IM for internal chat. We also run a web portal with Sametime collaboration software for web conferencing where external users can attend too. We also allow Skype and all IM clients that tunnel thru e.g. http or ftp on our firewalls. Skype is great for our offices that are not connected to our VoIP system ( Avaya ). Saves the company money...
So you see we are quite liberal and I personnaly think there is too much hype about possible security issues in this area. As  you described very well there are much more other possibilities to move data outside the company. Taking away data on a USB stick leaves no tracks but a IM session with data transfer could be tracked. ;-)



Posted by Utente Anonimo on 26.08.05 - 11:14:44

also Yahoo and MSN messengers can work only via port 80 and http so there is nothing new there.... and I don't think you need administrative priviledges to install them either.

Posted by hillbillynater on 26.08.05 - 16:09:09

Good points, but as a system admin, and a  contractor, I worry about business proprietary data out on big bad www...I know it's a stretch, but I wonder if folks are exploiting the veritable flood of information that employees are unwittingly exposing possibly to competitors?  I know all about the so-called security measures, and having worked in blackhat test lab scenarios , know how easy it can be to circumvent many of these measures...Security is really about deciding an acceptable risk level.  So, each company will have different requirements in this regard, internally as well...The guy working in shipping may not disclose anything of import, whereas an executive working up a contract bid could expose rate information that could be used to underbid?  Again,  it's probably far-fetched, but if employees aren't chatting, and e-mailing constantly outside corporate, there's fewer vectors to be concerned two cents

Posted by IberIM on 26.08.05 - 22:12:33

I think you're missing one important aspect on your analisys, which is manageability.

As you put it (and a very good analogy in fact) IM is like email with the speed of a phone. IM solutions for the enterprise need the management capabilities of email - and most of them don't have it: logging, traffic management, enterprise managed and controlled encryption, etc.

Imagine what would happen if you didn't have attachment size limitation, or maximum recipient limit, etc., in your corporate email, and translate that into IM.
Does everybody in a company that has access to a PC need email? Or a phone number?

Giving them the capacity to install an IM client and use it freely is a sure recipe for chaos.

We use IM in our company (Microsoft LCS2005/Messenger and Sametime), and I consider we are quite liberal at it. But it's of utmost importance to limit access to voice conferencing and other "heavy" capabilities to a very specific set of users... Skype is useful, but not "internally managed", so it's tolerated only while it's impact on WAN links is acceptable.

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