Network security vendor Barracuda Networks has announced what it describes as the "first and only all-in-one instant messaging [IM] appliance" to help companies manage and protect all their IM traffic.
"It includes an IM gateway to capture and manage all your AOL, Yahoo and MSN-type IM traffic, and it can also act as a secure internal IM server, so you're providing encrypted IM communications," said Barracuda's managing director, Paul Thackeray. "It includes an integrated database to store all IM logs, both public and internal, and it virus scans all IM and file transfers."
The release may be timely, following the announcement at last month's 3GSM show in Barcelona that most leading IM vendors have signed up to a Personal IM initiative to develop full interoperability between their systems.
Andy Kellett of analyst Butler Group said, "[This kit is] part of this 'protect against everything' culture that's seems to be coming in, and I see IM as just another leg. Last year it was spyware, this year it may be a little early for IM, but the message seems to be getting across. Barracuda has done it and it's logical to assume that [security specialist] Symantec, which acquired IMLogic, will be doing something similar."
The Barracuda IM Firewall is available in five models, the 220, 320, 420, 620 and 820, and a further model, the 920, will be released later with more processing power and larger disk capacity. The 220 and 320 models are aimed at branch offices, while the high-end 820 can support up to 7,000 users.
Thackeray said, "A lot of firms are using multiple IM clients and are very vulnerable to virus attack. We can provide a Barracuda IM client, which allows administrators to say you are allowed to communicate on MSN and Yahoo, but not AOL [for example]."
Barracuda added that the appliance can help firms comply with regulations by logging IM activity for up to five years. "This is a real boon for regulated businesses like the finance industry," said Thackeray. "Our products by default archive onboard, but you can archive onto other storage systems."
The IM Firewall will be available before April priced from £1,599 + VAT for the 220 model. The 820 is priced from £22,679 + VAT. There are no per user licensing fees.