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Symantec buys IM archiver, IMLogic

Jo Maitland, Senior Executive Editor

Symantec Corp. snapped up instant messaging (IM) management company IMLogic Inc. this week, boosting interest in the security and archival of instant messages.

The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed, but sources close to Symantec valued it at between $50 million and $75 million. It's the second compliance-related acquisition Symantec has made in a matter of months. The company acquired IT compliance software company BindView Development Corp. for $209 million in October.

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"[IMLogic's tool] sits right in the middle of the intersection between security and storage," said Jeremy Burton, senior vice president in the data management group at Symantec. "IMLogic does a lot of work making sure that IM is protected from malicious threats, but it can also move instant messages into an archive store to retain them for regulatory purposes."

IMLogic's IM Manager has been integrated with Symantec's Enterprise Vault e-mail archiving product since 2002. Burton claims the two companies have about 50 joint customers, mostly in the financial services sector.

IM monitoring took off in June 2003 when the National Association of Securities Dealers Inc. ruled that financial services companies must save all IM correspondence, as well as e-mails, for at least three years.

But despite the ruling, storing IMs "still doesn't carry a lot of weight as it's just a text message, unlike e-mail, where storage got out of control because of attachments," said Marcel Nienhuis, market analyst with The Radicati Group Inc. However, he says that as people start sending more files through IM, the storage requirements will go up.

Jon Sakoda, chief technology officer at IMLogic, adds that IM clients perform more than just chat, which will expand the storage requirements for this application. "They offer rich conferencing features such as click-to-talk and eventually voice conversations and Web conferencing will all need to be archived," he said.

Products like those from IMLogic, Akonix Systems Inc. and FaceTime Communications Inc. allow administrators to monitor traffic, set policies for blocking and archiving IMs, and manage file transfers. The software captures the IM stream, and archives it as searchable, logical conversations. The software can also block or highlight messages containing certain words.

According to the latest statistics from The Radicati Group, 13.9 billion IM messages were sent in 2005, 1.4 billion of those across corporate networks. And this number is expected to rise to 7 billion by 2009.

Joshua Konkle, vice president of marketing at e-mail archiving startup Overtone Software Inc., noted that Symantec might also be able to "cajole" the IM industry into adopting a standard. There are 15 or so different IM protocols, making it hard for users to talk to each other when everyone is using a different product. "Symantec brings a different perspective to the game … they are not trying to be an IM vendor, they bring simplicity as they are not trying to protect goods," Konkle said.


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