AOL sends a message to businesses

America Online is joining forces with a collection of messaging companies to provide consolidated, secure IM service.

The company on Thursday announced its AOL Enterprise Federation Partner program, designed to link IM users while they're at work (AOL says it is the "IM provider of choice" for 14 million people at the office), and welcomed four software companies to that alliance: Antepo, Jabber, Omnipod and Parlano.

The deal lets those four offer their enterprise customers certificate-based and encrypted access to AOL's network of messaging services, which includes AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ, and also to users of Apple's iChat. Security is a growing concern for IM networks, especially in the workplace.

AOL scrapped its earlier efforts in enterprise messaging business almost a year ago, and shortly after that revived its plans for targeting corporate customers.

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