Plumtree partners with Yahoo for enterprise IM

Plumtree Software announced it is bringing corporate instant messaging (IM) to its Enterprise Web suite through a new partnership with Yahoo! Inc., effective Monday.

The partnership enables Plumtree customers to add presence awareness and application alerts in addition to IM capabilities into their Plumtree Enterprise Web deployments.

Enterprise Web is San Francisco-based Plumtree’s flagship offering, which consists of integration products for bringing resources from traditional systems together on the Web. The platform also enables shared services such as collaboration, content management and search functions for building new Web applications as well as a portal platform for delivering these Web applications to broad audiences.

According to Noam Lovinsky, product manager, Collaboration for Plumtree, the company interviewed 70 customers to gauge areas of interest for its next version release of its Collaboration Suite product — an element of Enterprise Web — due out at the end of Q2 this year. He said that while some customers reported that they had no use for IM capabilities, the other customer camp said IM was rampant throughout their corporations and controlling and securing IM was a major priority.

“Instant messaging is really out there in the industry and people are using it whether businesses like it or not, unfortunately,” Lovinsky told IT World Canada. “There was no reason for Plumtree to build another proprietary technology. Rather, we decided we would build an architecture that allows people to plug in whatever IM system they want.”

While Plumtree knew it would not be able to integrate with 10 or even three IM providers out of the gate, Lovinsky said the company planned to integrate with one to start, and Yahoo! Messenger fit the profile.

“We came to Yahoo! at the end because of their flexibility,” he said. “Plumtree is a deployed software solution and there is a lot of software you have to deploy behind a firewall and there are hardware requirements (as well). With IM in the state it is in now, our customers don’t necessarily want to make the decision of which IM vendor to go with. Most customers see IM as a little tool that they are plugging into their medium to allow people to communicate. They don’t see it as a strategic decision like selecting an e-mail vendor.”

Yahoo! Messenger for the Enterprise Web Suite includes 128-bit encryption, spam control, virus scanning of incoming files and enables peer-to-peer messaging. The hosted service allows organizations to have the encryption and control of a locally deployed IM solution without the hardware, deployment and administration costs typically expected, the company said.

The integrated Yahoo! Messenger in Plumtree’s Enterprise Web suite also offers unified user management, integrated activity rights management, embedded online presence and user availability features as well as event-driven alerts on documents, tasks and discussions within projects.

Plumtree customer Haynes and Boone LLP, an international law firm based in Dallas, added Yahoo! Messenger to its Plumtree Enterprise Web suite in November to aid its employees in collaboration on case work. According to the firm, the goal was to give its attorneys and staff the ability to securely communicate instantly amongst one another as well as with clients via portal applications. Haynes and Boone said the solution has proved helpful as a back-channel communication tool and said it has plans to use the IM capability in a virtual help desk portal application.

“The biggest positive of the Plumtree/Yahoo! integration is that since people are building applications using the Plumtree framework, we are able to take a component like IM, abstract it to such a degree so that you can plug it into any application you are building,” Lovinsky explained. “Hanes and Boone is already embedding presence information into other applications. It is easy to integrate throughout other applications.”

Yahoo! Messenger for Plumtree Enterprise Web Suite is being sold as a services engagement, which includes one to two days of installation assistance from Plumtree Consulting Services for a one-time installation fee of US$5,000. The Yahoo! Messenger service is priced at as yearly subscription, which ranges from US$10 to US$30 depending on the number of seats purchased.

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