MarketScope for Enterprise Instant Messaging and Presence
5 July 2011

David Mario Smith

Gartner Research Note G00213790

Instant messaging and presence platforms are strategic components of enterprises' unified communications and collaboration portfolios. However, issues of vendor incompatibility limit the extent to which they may be integrated.

What You Need to Know

This document was revised on 26 July 2011. For more information, see the Corrections page on

For enterprises, instant messaging (IM) and presence platforms have become elements of core infrastructure and therefore involve strategic investments.

Integration of presence information with email and other business applications is a central requirement that impacts workflow and collaborative decision making.

Vendors are vying for control of the market for enterprise presence engines.


Vendor consolidation is ongoing in the enterprise IM and presence market, with the biggest providers acquiring smaller ones, as exemplified by Cisco's purchase of Jabber.

At the same time, technological convergence is increasing as major vendors get closer to offering full unified communication and collaboration (UCC) suites.

However, many customers are still deploying stand-alone IM and presence platforms. This is despite vendors' offers of bundles and their intention, as previously with email platforms, to use IM and presence as a "hook" with which to introduce other communications and collaboration services later.

IM and presence capabilities are also being integrated more deeply into business and office productivity applications. But these integrations are highly customized and interoperability is limited due to incompatibilities between different vendors' products.

Investments are being made in standards like the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) as messaging middleware to connect disparate systems and applications. XMPP middleware can connect people to people, machines to machines, applications to applications, business application data to people, or a combination of these (see "Take Four Steps to Prepare for XMPP Becoming a Universal Standard").

Social software integrations are also emerging as near-real-time presence information is embedded in activity streams and rich profile lookups. Evidence of these integrations can be seen in Novell Vibe, IBM Lotus Connections, Microsoft SharePoint, Cisco Quad and Jive Software's software. Also, although they are not rated in this report, real-time social platforms such as's Chatter and Tibco's Tibbr are emerging and bringing real-time functionality to core business applications.

Enterprises are taking a fresh look at presence as a core service in their real-time collaboration architectures. Although it is closely associated with IM, presence-based real-time capabilities can be embedded in any application and business process.

Concerns about archiving and compliance are growing with the increase in IM data in regulated industries. These concerns should carry over into all the countries where enterprises do business. Legal teams should be aware of compliance regulations abroad as well as those affecting their business in its home country. Governance policies should be created so that employees understand their responsibilities in relation to IM (see "Toolkit: Sample Template for Creating an Instant Messaging Governance Policy"). Cloud-based IM and presence offerings introduce further risks as archiving IM content may be beyond the enterprise's control. Enterprises need to understand archiving and discovery procedures in such situations.

Removed From the MarketScope

Due to a lack of client inquiries and market activity we have removed Alcatel-Lucent from the MarketScope. Alcatel-Lucent still operates strongly in other markets, such as unified communications (UC), where IM is a functionality in its suite of communications tools.

Market/Market Segment Description

The distinction between IM and presence is blurring. IM is just one application that in which presence capabilities can surface. Buyers no longer view IM and presence as distinct capabilities, and therefore make a single infrastructure decision. But the definition of infrastructure itself is evolving. It now refers mostly to email, IM and presence, but voice, video and Web conferencing are becoming part of the mix, and soon it will also include social networking. As adoption by enterprises grows, companies with no IM and presence solution will make integrations with social solutions a key purchase-influencing factor. Also, we believe existing IM and presence customers will look to their incumbent vendors to provide additional social capabilities. This may mean that the incumbent's system gets replaced if social integration is not on its road map.

Products in the enterprise IM market are deployed predominantly on customers' premises. But cloud-based enterprise IM services are emerging as part of cloud collaboration bundles from major vendors such as Cisco, IBM and Microsoft.

Decisions about email systems also include IM as part of a full infrastructure investment, usually from the same vendor. Therefore, most strategic enterprise IM decisions are not made independently.

Organizations are increasingly seeking to reduce vendor complexity where possible, and while they may typically review several vendors on a shortlist, IM has become an infrastructure decision for which the incumbent email infrastructure vendor is often favored for IM, presence and other collaboration services, if available. This favors IBM and Microsoft, which provide the email infrastructure in most enterprises.

Also, IM and presence investments are sometimes influenced by communications decisions about capabilities such as voice telephony. When the telephony environment is a strong driver, the incumbent provider is often higher on the shortlist of potential suppliers of enterprise IM and presence capabilities.

The IM features reviewed in this MarketScope are the basic, core features that all products should possess. With expanded functionality for richer communications, such as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and integration with enterprise PBXs, the IM client has evolved into a UCC client and a central point for accessing multiple communications and collaboration services.

Inclusion And Exclusion Criteria

The minimum functions that a vendor must offer to be included in this MarketScope are as follows:

  • Centralized management features.

  • Security (encryption, digital signatures, secure sign-on and antivirus protection, typically through a third party).

  • Directory integration with an enterprise directory system, such as Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and Active Directory.

  • Presence engine.

  • Text chat, group chat, persistent chat.

  • Application programming interfaces (APIs) for application developers to customize and integrate into business applications and portals.

  • Archiving (directly or through a third party).

  • Logging/auditing.

  • Federation with public IM networks via gateways.

  • Mobile support.

Advanced communications services that were first deployed in consumer IM systems are now emerging in enterprise IM products. These services include the following, though they are not required for inclusion in this document:

  • Video support (one-to-one, but also multipoint via technical partnerships).

  • Voice (click to call).

  • Web conferencing support (click to conference).

  • Integration with PBXs.

  • Telephony support.

  • Social networking and social messaging integration.

To be included in this MarketScope, in addition to the minimum functionality requirements listed above, a vendor must also:

  • Build or develop its own enterprise IM and presence product.

  • Offer it as a stand-alone product or as a suite.

  • Have a product that can be deployed either on-premises or as a hosted product.

  • Have clear market demand, as judged by Gartner's client inquiry data, for its stand-alone IM and presence offering.

Although most vendors have an IM client, for inclusion in this report we require only that they have a back-end IM and presence server.

Rating for Overall Market/Market Segment

Overall Market Rating: Positive

Instant messaging and presence are proven capabilities in business settings where immediacy is crucial, such as call centers. They have proven to be very effective tools for rapid dissemination of information and fast resolution of problems.

Although their predominant use within business has been with public network services, enterprise IM systems have matured and many can be deployed to support up to 10,000 users per server. However, most enterprise implementations are deployed in multiple-server environments. Market consolidation will result in fewer small, niche players.

Note that, along with the Innovation and Product/Service criteria, this MarketScope also considers Sales Strategy, Market Understanding, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Execution and Overall Viability. We have applied higher weightings to Marketing Strategy, Marketing Execution and Sales Strategy. As a market matures, it changes and so does our analysis. Year by year, our inclusion criteria, weightings and opinion about what it takes to maintain market strength may change. As the IM and presence market has matured, the contending product capabilities have become more comparable, making distinctions based on features and functions less important and increasing the importance of sales and marketing.

Evaluation Criteria

Table 1. Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria
Direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or pre-emptive purposes.
Sales Strategy
Strategy for selling products using the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.
Market Understanding
Ability of the vendor to understand buyers' wants and needs and to translate them into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen and understand buyers' wants and needs, and can shape or enhance them with their added vision.
Marketing Strategy
A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.
Marketing Execution
The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization's message to influence the market, promote the brand and business, increase awareness of the products, and establish a positive identification with the product/brand and organization in the minds of buyers. This "mind share" can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional, thought leadership, word-of-mouth and sales activities.
Core goods and services offered by the vendor that compete in and serve the defined market. These include current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets and skills, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships, as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.
Overall Viability (Business Unit, Financial, Strategy, Organization)
Includes an assessment of the organization's overall financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood of the individual business unit continuing to invest in the product, offer the product, and advance the state of the art within the organization's product portfolio.

Source: Gartner (July 2011)


Figure 1. MarketScope for Enterprise Instant Messaging and Presence

Figure 1.MarketScope for Enterprise Instant Messaging and Presence

Source: Gartner (July 2011)

Vendor Product/Service Analysis


Avaya Aura is a UC suite that includes IM and presence functionality.

Avaya's strength is in the UC market, but it faces a tough challenge to penetrate the broader collaboration market. The challenge lies in the market's dynamics, as stand-alone IM and presence decisions are made initially in light of other infrastructure investments, such as in email.

Avaya has leverage with existing customers for upselling, but acquiring new enterprise customers will be a challenge in this crowded market. Most enterprises will need to invest in the full Aura suite to get IM and presence. However, it is possible to use the Avaya Agile Communication Environment (ACE) to expose non-Avaya infrastructure to established or new Avaya or third-party IM/presence solutions.

Avaya Aura has mobile support for Android, iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows phones via the Avaya one-X Mobile client.

Avaya Aura has a strong presence engine and can integrate with other platforms such as Microsoft Lync and IBM Sametime, as well as federate with consumer IM networks.

Non-Avaya customers should investigate Avaya Aura for presence and IM on the basis of its integration with existing business and collaboration systems, but should understand that it may require investment in Avaya ACE for non-Avaya environments or in the full Avaya UC platform.

Deployment Options: On-premises.

Rating: Promising.


The Bantu EnterpriseIM platform, which is based on XMPP, has most traction in government and defense agencies for internetwork federation and messaging between U.S. armed forces. Bantu's aim is to penetrate enterprises as well, but this will be challenging as it has not been successful in selling direct to enterprises. It will also struggle if enterprises' incumbent email providers also offer IM and presence capabilities, as enterprises will usually choose these.

Bantu, however, has unique services, modules and capabilities relating to IM and presence, such as IM routing for help desk, XMPP middleware for embedding real-time capabilities in customer applications, and broadcast IM alerts/notifications.

Essentially, Bantu's platform can coexist with other IM and presence platforms such as Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS)/Lync and integrate with a gateway to XMPP.

Enterprises with existing investments in strategic platforms should look at Bantu's services for application enablement via real-time IM and presence integration.

Deployment Options: On-premises and cloud-based software as a service (SaaS).

Rating: Caution.


Cisco Jabber is both a rebranding and a new UC client offering. All of Cisco's future UC clients will be branded Jabber.

Jabber includes voice, video, conferencing and XMPP-based IM and presence capabilities, with on-premises and SaaS deployment options. The presence and IM functionality uses technology acquired in 2008 from Jabber. Cisco has announced Jabber support for a broad array of platforms and devices, including PCs, Apple Macs, tablets (Android, Apple iPad and Cisco Cius) and smartphones (Apple iPhone and Research In Motion, Nokia and Android devices).

Cisco already had IM and presence capabilities in its Cisco Unified Presence (CUPS) offering, but the acquisition of Jabber has renewed its strategy for an open-standards-based presence protocol that can bridge real-time and asynchronous collaboration. Cisco Jabber brings together Cisco's full UC capabilities, with federation for XMPP-based IM clients and other consumer IM networks such as AOL, Google Talk and Yahoo. There is mobile support for BlackBerry handsets, a UC client for Nokia devices that includes presence and IM, and support is planned for iPhone and Android devices in the second half of 2011. In addition, Cisco supports standards-based XMPP mobile clients. Integration with Cisco Quad delivers real-time social capabilities.

With Cisco exiting the email market, the company faces a challenge to convince enterprise customers that do not already invest in Cisco infrastructure of its commitment to the Cisco Jabber strategy in light of competitive pressure from Microsoft's offer of an integrated suite that includes email, IM and presence capabilities and SharePoint for collaboration. Cisco will leverage its strong position in telephony and UC infrastructure in enterprises as a foundation for selling stand-alone IM and presence functionality. This is in contrast to the strategy of incumbent email providers, which use email infrastructure for the same purpose.

Cisco offers integration into Microsoft OCS/Lync, Microsoft Office and IBM Sametime. So enterprise customers that choose Cisco for IM and presence will have integration with core Office applications.

Existing Jabber customers should note that they will not be able to take advantage of the Cisco Jabber client as it currently does not support pure XMPP-based servers unless they follow the Cisco Jabber UC path. However, XMPP clients can directly connect to Cisco IM and presence servers. Also, Cisco WebEx Connect IM customers will experience slightly different functionality using the Cisco Jabber client, compared with users accessing the on-premises-based server. Enterprises should request a comparison sheet to compare functionality with both deployment options.

Deployment Options: On-premises and cloud-based SaaS.

Rating: Positive.


For the past couple years, the number of client enquiries Gartner receives about Google Apps has been increasing.

Google has several offerings targeted at specific vertical markets: Google Apps for Business, Google Apps for Education, Google Apps for Government and Google Apps for Nonprofit. Although the suite includes IM and presence capabilities, along with email and other productivity applications, Gmail is its centerpiece.

IM and presence comes bundled in Google Talk and is integrated throughout the suite. Google Talk has mobile support for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry devices. Google Talk is also embedded within Gmail for text, voice and video chat.

The suite is cloud-based only, so companies have to consider archiving and compliance issues, where relevant, in relation to content in the cloud.

Being natively XMPP-based, Google Talk offers open federation with any XMPP-based server and many social networking applications.

Although market interest in Google's offerings is high and Google appears on many enterprise shortlists for IM and presence, many large enterprises are still hesitating to move collaboration operations to the cloud. However, Google has secured several major deals with enterprises and state and local government agencies.

Enterprises considering the cloud provisioning model should consider Google's offerings with an understanding of any extra costs associated with archiving, compliance, security and mobile support.

Deployment Options: Cloud-based SaaS.

Rating: Positive.


Sametime is IBM's IM, presence and Web conferencing offering. It was one of the earliest enterprise IM and presence products, and IBM continues to innovate and invest in it.

Sametime comes in three different modules with different prices: Sametime Entry, Sametime Standard and Sametime Advanced. It has mobile support for Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Symbian (Nokia, Ericsson), and Windows Mobile v5 and v6. It supports multiple operating systems. There is also integration with Microsoft Office and other business applications via Sametime APIs.

Although IBM has made strides in the market, IBM still faces a challenge to penetrate deeply into non-IBM environments with Sametime. Gartner's client inquiry data continues to show that when buying IM and presence capabilities, enterprises often favor their incumbent email system vendor. So selling Sametime to companies that have never used Lotus Notes or have migrated from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange is not easy.

Sametime is a solid platform that can operate on a stand-alone basis without any investment in a full Lotus Notes Domino infrastructure. IBM has deep social capabilities with Sametime and Lotus Connections integration. In fact, we see many sales situations where customers are presented with both offerings together. Given the overall level of integration that is possible, Sametime should be investigated both by IBM Lotus customers and those with non-Lotus environments.

Deployment Options: On-premises and cloud-based SaaS.

Rating: Positive.


Lync is the latest version of Microsoft's UC product, which includes IM and presence capabilities. We expect the cloud-based version, Lync Online, to launch with Office 365 in 2011 and to include IM, presence and conferencing capabilities. Lync Online will support VoIP at launch, and is scheduled to acquire the ability to call phones in 2012.

By the end of 2011, Lync will have enhanced mobile support, with mobile phone clients provided for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Symbian devices by Microsoft, and for BlackBerry devices by RIM. Although Lync now has expanded telephony functionality, such as E911 support, and high availability, many customers initially deploy only IM, presence and Web conferencing capabilities across the organization, preferring to migrate users from PBX systems over time.

Market data shows that Microsoft, as it did with OCS, is tying Lync closely to Exchange for email and SharePoint, making it an infrastructure decision. This fuller offering also makes it difficult for other vendors to compete with.

Also, Lync and SharePoint integration offers enhanced social capabilities, such as expertise location via profiles. Social activity feed functionality is available and uses data from a mix of sources, including Lync, Exchange and Active Directory.

Microsoft's momentum in the email market gives it strong leverage for Lync. Challenges for Microsoft will include closing the gap between its on-premises functionality and what is available in its cloud offering. Gartner clients are increasingly considering Microsoft's cloud options for IM and presence capabilities.

Although Microsoft has published APIs, enterprises with heterogeneous environments for communications and collaboration should be aware that not all integrations are smooth. Additionally, integration of OCS/Lync with existing PBX and IP telephony systems is often a concern for customers. They should investigate their requirements upfront to ensure the level of integration they need is possible.

Deployment Options: On-premises and cloud-based SaaS.

Rating: Strong positive.


Novell Messenger (formerly GroupWise Messenger) remains Novell's flagship product for IM and presence capabilities. The recently available Novell Vibe also supports IM and presence, and overlaps with Novell Messenger. Novell Messenger is not sold separately, but is included as an entitlement with both GroupWise and the Novell Vibe on-premises team collaboration solution.

Novell's strategy is eventually to integrate GroupWise, Messenger and Vibe for messaging synchronization. Vibe represents an innovative move by Novell to integrate social computing and real-time collaboration, similar to what Google did with Wave.

The recent acquisition of Novell by Attachmate led to concern among clients about the company's long-term road map and strategy not just for IM and presence, but also for the overall collaboration portfolio.

Messenger supports Windows, Mac and Linux, but mobile support is currently limited to BlackBerry.

Novell has to clarify its message about whether customers should continue to invest in GroupWise (which includes Messenger for IM and presence), Vibe or both.

Enterprises considering Novell for IM and presence capabilities should request a clear road map for the overlapping offerings, and for integration with non-Novell collaboration and messaging platforms.

Deployment Options: On-premises, but the newly released Vibe product is cloud-based.

Rating: Caution.


ProcessOne remains an innovator in the XMPP community with its ejabberd IM and presence platform.

It supports multiple operating systems, including Windows, Linux and, for mobile devices, iOS, Android and webOS.

The hosted IM offering is supported on Amazon cloud infrastructure for SaaS deployments.

For managed or dedicated deployments ProcessOne offers hosting in Claranet or partner data centers.

ProcessOne is in a challenging position, being based in Europe and having limited traction in North America. It will find it hard to compete with Microsoft and other larger vendors for pure IM and presence platform deployments.

ProcessOne's strategy is to pursue adjacent services, alongside IM and presence, such as a "push" platform or framework for delivering real-time information, persistent group chat services, bridging with Microsoft OCS and XMPP communities, and using XMPP as a back end for VoIP infrastructures.

ProcessOne sells to service providers, but has limited experience of selling direct to enterprises. With Microsoft, IBM and Cisco having a large share of this market, many enterprises will have to weigh the benefits of the additional services ProcessOne can provide against their commitment to existing investments, and assess whether the level of integration would be adequate.

Deployment Options: On-premises and cloud-based SaaS.

Rating: Caution.

Siemens Enterprise Communications

Siemens OpenScape is a UC platform with support for IM, presence, video calling and application sharing. Customers do not typically approach Siemens with stand-alone IM and presence capabilities in mind.

There is multiplatform support, including for iPhone, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Phone devices.

OpenScape is available in on-premises, private cloud, public cloud, managed service and hybrid deployment models. It scales for communications service providers.

Siemens has an obvious opportunity to push its IM and presence capabilities to existing customers, but faces a challenge to attract customers who do not already invest in its technology. When Microsoft Exchange or IBM Lotus Notes are part of the environment, the enterprise will typically opt to purchase IM and presence capabilities from these email providers.

Enterprises should assess the level of integration Siemens will provide for their email messaging environment.

Deployment Options: On-premises, cloud-based SaaS (also private cloud) and managed services.

Rating: Promising.

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Vendors Added or Dropped

We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant or MarketScope may change over time. A vendor's appearance in a Magic Quadrant or MarketScope one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. It may reflect a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or a change of focus by the vendor.

Gartner MarketScope Defined

Gartner's MarketScope provides specific guidance for users who are deploying, or have deployed, products or services. A Gartner MarketScope rating does not imply that the vendor meets all, few or none of the evaluation criteria. The Gartner MarketScope evaluation is based on a weighted evaluation of a vendor's products in comparison with the evaluation criteria. Consider Gartner's criteria as they apply to your specific requirements. Contact Gartner to discuss how this evaluation may affect your specific needs.

The various ratings are defined below:

MarketScope Rating Framework

Strong Positive
Is viewed as a provider of strategic products, services or solutions:

  • Customers: Continue with planned investments.

  • Potential customers: Consider this vendor a strong choice for strategic investments.

Demonstrates strength in specific areas, but execution in one or more areas may still be developing or inconsistent with other areas of performance:

  • Customers: Continue planned investments.

  • Potential customers: Consider this vendor a viable choice for strategic or tactical investments, while planning for known limitations.

Shows potential in specific areas; however, execution is inconsistent:

  • Customers: Consider the short- and long-term impact of possible changes in status.

  • Potential customers: Plan for and be aware of issues and opportunities related to the evolution and maturity of this vendor.

Faces challenges in one or more areas.

  • Customers: Understand challenges in relevant areas, and develop contingency plans based on risk tolerance and possible business impact.

  • Potential customers: Account for the vendor's challenges as part of due diligence.

Strong Negative
Has difficulty responding to problems in multiple areas.

  • Customers: Execute risk mitigation plans and contingency options.

  • Potential customers: Consider this vendor only for tactical investment with short-term, rapid payback.