Skype readying enterprise-friendly VOIP software

Skype is working to make its Internet telephony software more enterprise friendly.

Skype is working to make its Internet telephony service more enterprise friendly, and expects to introduce a beta version of its software with support for enterprise management functions within weeks.

The update would allow system administrators to use standard Windows management tools to set how the Skype software connects to the Internet, or to disable any of half a dozen functions, including file transfers, vice-president of telecommunications and Skype for business, Michael Jackson, said.

Use of Skype in business was widespread: Of Skype's 113 million registered users, 30 per cent said they used it for business, Jackson said.

The proprietary and hard-to-block connection protocols used by Skype's peer-to-peer communications system have raised concerns about security in some businesses.

That was a concern for Intel CIO, John Johnson, when some employees installed Skype software on their own initiative.

"What if some vulnerability developed, or if someone came up with a way to use it as a transport into the enterprise? We couldn't tell who was using it, or where, if it needed to be patched," Johnson said.

Skype has worked with Intel to meet the company's security requirements, Johnson said. Together, they came up with a proxy server approach, allowing Johnson to cut off the software's network access if a security problem is identified. "It doesn't go straight out onto the Internet any more," Johnson said.

To make Skype connect via the proxy server, Intel forced its Skype-using employees to upgrade their software client to a version supporting proxy connections.

Skype, designed for consumer use, has much in common with text instant messaging, according to Johnson.

"IM started as a consumer technology. Now most businesses couldn't work without it," he said.

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