Verizon Business Adds Instant Messaging Service to Provide Secure, Real-Time Communications in the Workplace

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - Verizon Business, a premier provider of advanced global communications and information technology (IT) solutions, today announced the launch of its Hosted Secure Instant Messaging (IM) Service to enable real-time collaboration and communications in the workplace that meets enterprise needs for security and usage management. An application that initially rose to popularity among consumers, IM is now helping business and government customers increase productivity and enhance communications among employees, vendors and partners.

With Hosted Secure IM, companies can enjoy the advantages of IM while leveraging Verizon Business' application-management expertise and robust infrastructure to maintain security and technology levels. Customers also will be able to better manage employee use of IM, including enforcing ethics policies and appropriate communications rules.

A key feature of this new offering enables companies to help stop Internet-based threats such as worms, viruses and spim (unsolicited chat messages from unknown users) before they enter a company's network in a way that consumer-focused IM applications do not. Until now, businesses have had few options for managing and protecting their networks from security threats associated with IM systems.

"Verizon Business is helping companies transform their businesses with IP solutions like Hosted Secure IM," said Ed McGuinness, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of Verizon Business. "With our one-of-a-kind offering, we are making IM a viable tool for the enterprise, while extending our collaboration and communications platform to deliver integrated IP applications with enhanced functionality for end-users."

Industry experts are finding an increasing number of companies are adding IM as a tool for facilitating enhanced communications in the workplace. According to a December 2005 Gartner "Forecast: Business Use of Instant Messaging, Worldwide, 2005-2009" report, the enterprise IM market is projected to have a compound annual growth rate of approximately 20 percent through 2009, and by 2010, 90 percent of users with business e-mail accounts will have IT-controlled IM accounts.

New Solution Offers Customers Flexibility with Two Service Options

Verizon Business offers two new service options -- Enterprise Instant Messaging and Managed Public Instant Messaging -- for managing and maintaining customers' IM systems.

Enterprise Instant Messaging is designed for companies that need a complete and secure IM communications service that operates only within their own networks. This offering uses Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005, including client software called Office Communicator, to make IM safer for companies by encrypting "chat" between users. The service also provides user authentication and search capabilities along with Microsoft Outlook integration, which enables greater efficiency for users.

"We, at Microsoft, understand the importance of security in driving continued adoption of enterprise-class communications tools such as instant messaging in the workplace," said Maria Martinez, corporate vice president of Communications Sector at Microsoft Corp. "Verizon Business' similar focus on security has resulted in a platform that will help form the basis for an enhanced collaboration and communications environment."

The second option, Managed Public Instant Messaging, is designed for companies that use public IM systems such as MSN, Yahoo! and AOL. The service allows companies to determine which individuals can access specific IM networks and also provides strong security protection.

Both service options provide enhanced security features, including anti-virus, content filtering and session logging capabilities. Hosted Secure IM also uses multiple virus engines, keyword policies, file extensions, deep attachment inspection and spim blocking to further aid in reducing threats.

Hosted Secure IM also offers advanced client-management features to give customers even more control over their IM environment. Customers can enforce management policies, such as establishing internal communications boundaries between groups. The service allows customers to log users' IM conversations and provides advanced capabilities to search, review and audit chat sessions.

"It seems almost everyone is using IM these days," said John O'Keefe, senior analyst with Current Analysis, a Virginia-based industry analyst firm. "This offering, with the two service options over an integrated communications platform, answers the enterprise need for both security and flexibility."

Unified Approach to Communications

Verizon Business' new Hosted Secure IM solution leverages Microsoft's Live Communications Server software and Verizon Business' shared multi-tenant environment to provide customers with a turnkey, unified and utility-based communications and collaboration platform, beginning with hosted e-mail and, now, instant messaging. All applications are managed and hosted by Verizon Business in its state-of-the-art Smart Centers.

IT Solutions Deliver Greater Value to Customers

Hosted Secure IM joins Verizon Business' extensive portfolio of IT Solutions, which offer various options for service-management levels and include Data Center Colocation, Data Center Outsourcing, Remote Backup and Restore, Hosted Messaging, IT Service Desk, IP Application Hosting and Remote IP Application Management.

Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), is a leading provider of advanced communications and information technology (IT) solutions to large business and government customers worldwide. Combining unsurpassed global network reach with advanced technology and professional service capabilities, Verizon Business delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world. For more information, visit www.verizonbusiness.com.