Our company has been standardized on Skype as our primary IM client for a few years now – I initially rolled it out agency-wide in the hopes that people would take advantage of its video calling capabilities to better communicate with our west coast office. As it turns out, that didn’t really happen (a surprising number of people don’t like to be on video) but it’s been an adequate client nonetheless.
However, I’m increasingly thinking it’s time to revisit that decision. A few factors are playing in to this:
- First and foremost, there’s the question of I.T.’s access to conversations held on Skype. A few months back, someone in the company left and I was subsequently asked to access their Skype conversations. Considering that this person was using their personal account (they joined us before I had started to utilize Skype Manager to maintain everybody’s accounts), I couldn’t legally do it.
- Ignoring that is the issue of work-related communications living on servers we don’t have direct control over. While our company doesn’t deal in much by way of confidential information, the principle is what matters here. It simply seems prudent to own this tech ourselves.
- Thirdly, there’s the fact that Microsoft has been making it more and more difficult to like Skype as a tool. One of its most useful functions, the ability to transfer files between users, was crippled about a year ago for no explicable reason – upload speeds have become so agonizingly slow that it’s basically useless as a file transfer tool now. On a more minor scale, MS recently announced the discontinuation of custom-made status buttons that could be placed in HTML. Sounds silly, but this was a cool feature – I had use it, in conjunction with gravatars, to create a slick online directory that showed the employee’s current Skype status. Now that’s broken.
I’ve been researching open source instant messaging server solutions and, so far, the best option I’ve found is the Openfire XMPP (Jabber) server system. That, in conjunction with a desktop client like Adium, may be the way to go.
Let the tinkering begin!