Significant cost savings and improved communications are luring enterprises to consider Skype. However, according to a report from in-depth IT research firm Burton Group, Skype may violate some enterprise information management and security policies. Burton Group recommends enterprises assess the risks versus the rewards of Skype as the simplest solution for evaluating its use.
In the report titled “Debunking the Hype About Skype,” senior analyst Irwin Lazar points out that enterprise use of Skype is growing. Those contacted by Burton Group cited significant reduction in long distance and mobile phone costs due to extremely low global long-distance rates, as well as Skype’s ability to deliver unified communications service for both internal and external use (Skype integrates voice, video, IM and presence capabilities) as primary business drivers to investigate Skype.
However, evaluating whether Skype fits into an organization’s overall security and information protection policy is the biggest concern for enterprises. Burton Group found three areas that should be considered:
Management and Control
• The lack of ability to provide centralized management and control
• The inability to log (and record) conversations with external entities
• Skype is a proprietary application that does not publish its protocols for public review
• Skype may offer a backdoor into enterprise networks
• Skype’s security model does not support strong authentication
• Inability to guarantee voice and video performance
• The ability to provide accurate user location information to emergency services as mandated by the FCC
• The ability to support the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) by providing an interface for wiretapping.
Lazar points out that it’s as simple as weighing the risk versus the reward. “If the risk is too high, ban Skype. If the reward outweighs the risk, consider Skype as part of your overall communications strategy.” Lazar also notes that the success of Skype has led to a slew of competing services, both from traditional IM providers as well as startups such as Tello and Gizmo. Lazar expects the market for integrated communications services to continue to rapidly grow.
Lazar discusses more about the issues enterprises should be aware of if considering Skype via a Burton Group Inflection Point podcast available at http://inflectionpoint.burtongroup.com
About Burton Group
Burton Group www.burtongroup.com is the only enterprise IT research and advisory services firm focused exclusively on offering in-depth analysis of infrastructure technologies. Burton Group's unbiased research and advice helps technologists make smarter enterprise architecture decisions in increasingly complex environments. Burton Group research and consulting services focus exclusively on infrastructure technologies relating to security, identity management, application platforms, and networks. Burton Group is an unbiased advocate for the enterprise technologist. This commitment is reflected in the fact that more than 80% of Burton Group's clients are enterprise organizations rather than product vendors, or service organizations. These companies span key market sectors including aerospace, automotive, financial services, education, energy, government, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and retail.