Dexrex Gear’s Technology Makes Instant, Text Messaging and Social Media Appropriate for the Workplace

Full article here: http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2010/10/28/dexrex-gears-technology-makes-instant-text-messaging-and-social-media-appropriate-for-the-workplace/1/

Erin Kutz 10/28/2010

There have been countless times where I’ve started a conversation on Facebook, expanded on it via e-mail, and wrapped it up through text messaging.

For me, it’s not really a big deal, as I’m usually discussing weekend plans or roommate issues and not anything subject to examination by a federal agency. But for entities that have to remain accountable to the government—say financial institutions or other big public corporations—it’s a bit more of a problem.

Enter Cambridge-based Dexrex Gear (Xconomy’s downstairs neighbor), a maker of software and servers for capturing instant messages, social media updates, and SMS messages for compliance and archiving. The startup’s software grew out of a “universal inbox” for instant messaging that Derek Lyman and Richard Tortora developed when they were students at UMass Amherst. The technology caught the eye of SECCAS, a maker of e-mail compliance and long-term storage software. The firm asked the college students to rebuild their technology for capturing instant messages inside financial institutions for regulatory compliance.

“We created it for their use and they rode shotgun the whole way,” says Lyman, a co-founder and now director of the company who left college in 2007 to run Dexrex full-time.

Dexrex’s ChatSync software platform has expanded over the past two years to capture social media conversations, and this fall introduced the capability to capture messaging on BlackBerry, Android, Windows Mobile, and Symbian mobile phone platforms, The software works by plugging into a company’s fleet of devices, extracting and encrypting what was said, and sending it to a server (which can be hosted by Dexrex or on customer premises, Lyman says). The system pulls the different records of communication into a database, and then threads them into one conversation. So, if employees are discussing a single issue via multiple platforms like text messaging, Facebook, and instant messaging, ChatSync makes it all appear together as a single conversation.

It might sound invasive, but in industries like financial services, employee communications are subject to examination if an agency like the SEC is examining a firm for wrongdoing, occurrences that really came to light as Dexrex was developing the product in the wake of the big banks’ crash in 2008. If companies aren’t archiving these communications all along, electronic discovery can be a huge expense, Lyman says. “If [companies] weren’t systematically doing it, they had spot solutions, and would get raked over the goals when any incident happened,” he says.

Companies lacking archiving methods for platforms like social media and text messaging typically just banned their employees from using them altogether, Lyman says. “We focus on enabling the capture of these alternative communications into the primary enterprise platform,” he says. “People should be able to use whatever it is that they want to use and we’ll get the logs where they need to be.”

Certain platforms, such as BlackBerry and the Microsoft Office Communication Server, have previously had technology in place to archive the communications on their individual platforms, but that the logs came in the form of flat, unstructured .TXT files. “It’s kind like this black box of doom,” says Lyman of the traditional methods of auditing and data discovery.

Firms beyond traditional regulated spaces—like financial services, healthcare, and defense—still have the potential for being hit with big electronic discovery costs after the fact, if they aren’t archiving conversations, Lyman says. Company communications are subject to being subpoenaed in the case of wrongful termination and sexual harassment litigation, and even in the divorce cases of their individual employees—and companies are forced to foot the bill.

Dexrex is largely focused on appealing to smaller and medium-sized businesses to enable them to protect themselves. It offers the technology under a software-as-a-service model, selling the product from around $1 or $2 per user per month, which enable even small brokerage shops to use the technology, Lyman says.

Dexrex bases its entire business model around channel resellers, and currently has a sales partnership with Needham, MA-based Sonian, which packages ChatSync with its own e-mail archival software. The company has raised $2.8 million to date, including a $1 million financing in February to help deploy its software through the partner networks and bring on more resellers. The company is working on raising another round, targeting investors with experience in the enterprise IT world, Lyman says.

Dexrex Gear Launches New ChatSync Mobile Enterprise for BlackBerry

New version integrates previously isolated mobile text communications data into compliance and master data management solutions for BlackBerry environments

Cambridge, Mass. (September 28, 2010) — Dexrex Gear, a leading developer of cloud-based enterprise data management solutions for businesses’ mobile text (SMS) and instant message (IM) communications, has launched a new version of its ChatSync platform for enterprise BlackBerry users, dubbed ChatSync Mobile Enterprise. The new functionality extends the award-winning ChatSync’s functionality into the mobile enterprise and provides greater capture reach and data centralization of SMS, MMS and SMS PIN messaging for companies operating in a BlackBerry environment.

Dexrex, a long-time BlackBerry Strategic Alliance member, developed the platform with the aim of keeping enterprise BlackBerry users current with growing instant messaging (IM) and SMS retention and compliance policies, providing customers with a one-stop application for the capture, storage and management of text-based communications data through all endpoints. In conjunction with an email management partner, such as Dexrex partners Sonian, SECCAS or USA.NET, companies are able to easily and cost effectively comply with constantly expanding regulations for communications retention in a variety of industries.

“Companies that operate under some sort of data retention regulations – a rapidly growing pool as more regulations and best practice recommendations come online – must treat IM, SMS and social media communications the same way they treat email communications, which includes complete capture and retention of messages communicated through BlackBerrys,” said Derek Lyman, co-founder and CEO of Dexrex Gear. “As one of the most widely deployed business communications devices, full support of BlackBerry devices and interoperability with BlackBerry back-end systems is a key feature for ChatSync.”

ChatSync Mobile Enterprise for BlackBerry operates through a distributed application model and can be installed silently through a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), adding value to BlackBerry servers while providing scalability for large fleets of BlackBerry users.

ChatSync works by capturing and offloading text-based messages via a client plug-in, proxy or SIP script deployment into a secure and centralized storage platform within the cloud, where it is normalized and archived in a structured database to ensure fast and efficient search and retrieval for compliance, e-discovery, and adherence to storage best practices.

“Today, one of the corporate SMS management strategies is to simply avoid wireless text communications all together, which negates a potentially fruitful communications stream within an enterprise,” said Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research. “Solutions like ChatSynch, which can bring SMS communications over BlackBerry into compliance, give enterprises the ability to safely use such communications in their day-to-day activities.”

The new ChatSync version is available now from Dexrex Gear resellers. For more information contact sales@dexrexgear.com.

About Dexrex Gear

Dexrex Gear is an information technology company that provides consumer and business textual data management services for instant message (IM) networks and mobile text (SMS) messages. Founded in 2005, the company is located in Cambridge. Dexrex Gear is committed to the privacy, security, and unification of personal communications. Dexrex Gear provides a suite of platforms for compliance, productivity, and e-discovery. The company’s goal is to organize textual communication and make all text portable. For more information visit www.dexrexgear.com.

Media Contacts

Efrain Viscarolasaga
Elevate Communications
+1 (617) 861–3652
efrain@elevatecom.com

John Gates
Elevate Communications
+1 (617) 861–3651
john@elevatecom.com

Q&A: Social Media and BI Overlap Ahead

Full article here: http://tdwi.org/Articles/2010/09/22/Social-Media-BI-Overlap.aspx

Using BI and data warehousing tools on data collected from social media applications could allow companies to better store, search, and analyze that data. The founder of a firm that makes a capture and storage platform for social media sees synergies just ahead.

By Linda L. Briggs
September 22, 2010

Given the huge growth of data from social media applications, as well as instant messaging and SMS, an overlap with business intelligence tools seems logical. Using appropriate BI technologies, companies might begin to capture, organize, and analyze the comments and chatter about their products posted on applications such as Facebook and Twitter as well instant messages.
In that context, BI This Week spoke with Derek Lyman, the founder and CEO of Dexrex Gear, a company that makes an enterprise capture and storage platform for social media, instant messaging, and SMS. Given his focus on social media and real-time communications in the enterprise, we asked Lyman about the overlap between social media in the enterprise and BI, and what might be ahead.
Regarding the integration of BI and social media, Lyman sees trends in which communication and collaboration platforms increasingly resemble BI tools. “We are approaching a very interesting point,” he says, “where we’ll be leaping two steps forward” in the synergies between the two technologies.
BI This Week: First of all, how well-developed is the overlap between social media and business intelligence right now?
Derek Lyman: Although there are some examples of integration and overlap between these two technology ecosystems, I think it’s fair to observe that they are currently two distinct and different worlds.
Exceptions aside, the professionals and companies that develop and implement communication technologies and platforms are not the same as those who do supply chain or processes management, and BI technologies. (There is even a clear divide here in the analyst and media journalist beats.)
However, there are trends on both sides that are causing communication and collaboration platforms to resemble BI tools in some ways. I also think that as BI tools (and process management tools) seek to inform and structure collaboration, they, too, are increasingly integrating with and replicating the communication environments.
So there’s movement happening on both sides?
Yes. As various platforms rise and fall, there will be some rough points. The overall trend may involve one step backward for every two steps forward. That said, I think we’re approaching a very interesting point where we’ll be leaping two steps forward.
In terms of applying BI tools and concepts to social networking applications, what’s out there right now?
I’m not aware of any well-adopted tools yet for running analytics in social networks, particularly for analyzing proprietary enterprise-oriented platforms. Although I know of some companies that operate online communities and have developed their own in-house BI capabilities, these systems generally rely on a sort of custom cobbling-together of systems, and more often than not include the extensive use of Microsoft Excel.
On the other side of things, companies that offer corporate social networks, such as Jive Software, SocialText, or Yammer, don’t yet have much of a focus on analytical capabilities, but that may change in the future.

What about BI tools that can be used on data from a more traditional medium — e-mail?
In terms of analytics capabilities, that’s the area where a lot of work has been done. Interestingly, the vast majority of commercial initiatives to analyze e-mail can trace back to the Enron case. When Enron’s e-mail records were made public, it exposed an obvious soft spot in corporations, and in turn kick-started work on communication and network forensics. Enron and related cases of the time also set the stage for Sarbanes-Oxley and a new regulatory environment. All of this acted to drive the development of electronic communication retention products to fulfill new regulatory compliance objectives.
Once these data-retention products were in the market and were aggregating and storing vast amounts of e-mail messages, the records were increasingly used to support litigation and investigation efforts. The stockpiles of data grew, and resulting e-discovery costs skyrocketed. As a result, a number of analytics and search tools were developed to facilitate and reduce the cost of e-discovery. One example of such a tool is Orchestria, which was acquired by CA in 2009 for its information-security technology. There are many similar in-house and proprietary tools that have been developed and are quietly clicking away.
In the middle to latter part of the last decade, in an effort to improve corporate communications and corporate community awareness, a number of companies attempted to develop next-generation analytics tools. Unfortunately, just as many of these products were reaching maturity, we entered the 2008 downturn, and spending on new and innovative productivity tools dropped off. Many of these communications-oriented BI tools, therefore, died on the shelves.
For example, a product called Visible Path was acquired by Hoovers for $20 million during the peak of activity and renamed Hoovers Connect, but it was recently discontinued as a service. That’s unfortunate, since many great products were cut short when the market turned against them at the wrong time. As a result, it’s primarily in the regulatory compliance and e-discovery product spaces that BI products focused on in-house communication were developed and have been able to survive over the past few years.
Where do you see these tools and technologies heading?
Community analytics products have had a hard time selling as standalone products. However, I think they make great features and packages on top of a unified communication or corporate social networking platform. They demonstrate well and they can add genuine insight and value once users understand how to use them. I’m currently seeing a trend where these tools are being developed in line with new social networking platforms.
An example of this is that both Cisco and Novell have products coming out of their emerging technology units, tools that run on top of their communication platforms. Cisco’s Pulse product seeks to identify experts in various subject matters within a corporate community by analyzing and indexing keyword patterns within the communications of its users.
A smaller but still very interesting company is Saba. They have a software-as-a-service (SaaS) communication platform called Saba Live that has an interesting angle. Saba has a background of working in the world of human resources and organizational development. Customers in that space were early adopters of tools for corporate social network analysis to inform things such as succession planning and work force integration through organization transitions like mergers. Saba has built tools into its communication platform for doing corporate network relationship mapping and influence mapping.

Is there a natural overlap or some clear connections between those sorts of tools and existing, more traditional BI tools?
There’s lots of overlap and you can see it coming from both sides. As the traditional providers of communication and collaboration platforms are developing more BI capabilities, companies with strong backgrounds in business intelligence are developing stronger communications offerings, while keeping corporate knowledge management and BI objectives in mind. An example of this can be seen in SAP’s Streamworks.
In my opinion, with few exceptions the recent trends in corporate communication and social analytics and intelligence are driven by the implementation of new SaaS offerings on the communications side, and centralized data management on the BI side. These both result in the aggregation of social interaction data, which is being opportunistically cultivated for new BI feature sets. Both these trends are riding on the trend of unified platforms.
Unified platforms are limited in their reach, however, by the limits of their deployment and adoption. A task that is much more common in the BI product space is that of data integration, including the ability to import data across systems and from outside, third-party systems. As the value of new BI tools becomes more apparent, I suspect there will be a recognition that more complete data will result in better intelligence. Then we’ll see a push for social and communication data aggregation and integration capabilities. If we now circle back to the compliance and e-discovery product space, it’s there that tools for communications data capture and aggregation have been being developed and deployed all along.
As they did following the Enron collapse, compliance data sets make for good research and great feeder systems for communications BI.
Regardless of how all this plays out, I’m confident in saying that there’s an increasingly apparent convergence in the capabilities of traditional BI offerings and communication and collaboration offerings as they seek to harness the value of communication data to power new features and create new insight. Ultimately, there will be a push for better communication and social data capture and integration toolsets.
How does your company’s product, ChatSync, fit into what we’ve talked about?
The ChatSync platform powers the capture and integration of instant messaging, SMS, and social media data and provides those capabilities for leading communications data management solutions.
Although the ChatSync platform is primarily being used in partnership with compliance and e-discovery solutions, its general mission is to make all communications and social data easy to retain and manage. It’s uncertain now how industry will choose to handle communications data — as part of master data management, in a subsystem that is specific to communications data only, or both. Regardless, ChatSync is a capable universal adaptor for message data, and Dexrex Gear is committed to working with industry leaders to advance the next generation of communications data management technologies. Our goal is to make all communications data more accessible, portable, and useful.

Sonian, Dexrex Partner to Manage User-Generated Data

Partnership Enables Archiving and Management of Corporate Social Media and IM Communications in the Cloud

Cambridge MA and Needham, MA (August 23, 2010) –Dexrex Gear, the leading cloud-based instant messaging (IM), SMS and social media data management platform developer announced today a technology partnership with Sonian. Under the terms of the agreement, Sonian has integrated Dexrex Gear’s ChatSync technology to provide cloud-powered archiving solutions for business email, IM and social media communications. These solutions enable organizations to address eDiscovery needs, achieve regulatory compliance and reduce IT costs.

“eDiscovery and compliance are real challenges with real penalties for businesses today, and the risks grow exponentially with the volume of corporate communications,” said George Nichols, President and CEO of Sonian. “By partnering with Dexrex, we are now even better equipped to help our customers manage the avalanche of user-generated communications while protecting them from the fallout of non-compliance.”

The combined offering will marry Sonian’s archiving solution with Dexrex’s ChatSync data management solutions for social media and IM. As a result, customers have the capability to capture, manage and store text-based communications on the corporate network, including enterprise email and collaboration, IM through third-party applications and social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

“This partnership represents the combination of two leading cloud-based technology solution providers with complementary capabilities,” said Derek Lyman, co-founder and CEO of Dexrex Gear. Enterprise communication has become a complex world of different platforms, services and media, causing untold headaches for IT departments pressed to maintain control for compliance, e-Discovery and business intelligence. Together, Sonian and Dexrex address this need perfectly.”
For more information on the partnership between Sonian and Dexrex, please visit www.sonian.com or www.dexrexgear.com.

About Sonian
Sonian delivers on-demand archiving services that enable organizations to address eDiscovery needs, achieve regulatory compliance, and reduce IT costs. Sonian’s services can be deployed in minutes, require no hardware or software investment, and are compatible with many email, instant messaging, and social media platforms. Sonian provides the only archiving offerings in the market built from the ground up using advanced cloud computing technologies. Over 4000 customers benefit from Sonian’s industry-leading security, performance, and usability. Boasting strong partnerships with the world’s leading technology companies, Sonian combines innovative technology with deep archiving expertise to satisfy customers of all sizes and industries. For more information, please visit www.sonian.com

About Dexrex Gear
Dexrex Gear is a leading information technology company that provides consumer and business text data management services for instant message (IM) networks and mobile text (SMS) messages. Founded in 2005, the company is located in Boston. Dexrex Gear is committed to the privacy, security, and the universal accessibility of communications. Dexrex Gear provides a suite of platforms for compliance, productivity, and e-discovery. The company’s goal is to organize text communication and make all text portable. For more information visit www.dexrexgear.com.

Media Contacts:
John Gates/Efrain Viscaralosaga
Elevate Communications
617 861-3651/3652
john@elevatecom.com
efrain@elevatecom.com

David Jackson
Sonian
djackson@sonian.net
617-958-4024

Megan Lane
SHIFT Communications
sonian@shiftcomm.com
617-779-1854

25 Coolest Emerging Vendors For 2010

Read the full article here: http://www.crn.com/software/225700498;jsessionid=TOAREBO13VFZTQE1GHRSKH4ATMY32JVN?pgno=10

Dexrex Gear is riding the wave of messaging and text-based communications, and tying it into the explosion of social networking and media tools. How does Dexrex Gear do it? With ChatSync, a SaaS platform for enterprise data management that stores real-time text-based communications for compliance and e-discovery. And with ChatSync version 2.2, introduced earlier this year, the message archiving and management platforms expanded its capabilities from instant messaging and SMS messages to support social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. ChatSync also offers extensible APIs to plug into users’ devices, messaging clients, or messaging servers, and works in parallel with the messaging application to capture the media streams. The streams are captures into a centralized storage system from which it can be retrieved.

Dexrex Gear’s ChatSync 2.2 Named as Finalist in Cloud Computing for the 2010 MITX Technology Awards

Seventh Annual MITX Technology Awards Recognize Outstanding Technology Advancements

CAMBRIDGE, Mass (May 17, 2010) – Dexrex Gear, a leading developer of cloud-based enterprise data management solutions for mobile text (SMS), instant message (IM) and social media communications was named a finalist in the 7th Annual MITX Technology Awards today. The MITX Technology Awards recognize emergent and innovative technologies developed in the New England area, as well as the individuals and organizations responsible for driving these advancements. The Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX) is the country’s premier Internet business and marketing association.

Dexrex Gear’s ChatSync™ provides enterprises with a cloud-based platform for the capture, storage and management of real-time text messages, such as SMS, IM and social media communications services such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. ChatSync works by capturing and offloading text-based messages via a client plug-in, proxy or SIP script deployments into a secure and centralized storage platform within the cloud where it is normalized and archived in a structured database to ensure fast and efficient search and retrieval for compliance, e-discovery, and adherence to storage best practices. It supports an array of environments, from mobile text messaging to IM from third party vendors such as Google, Yahoo! and AOL, to enterprise collaboration and unified communications platforms.

“The use of real-time text messages from a number of different sources is growing rapidly in enterprise environments and wreaking havoc on IT departments that need to get a handle on such communications for compliance and best business practices reasons,” said Derek Lyman, co-founder and CEO of Dexrex Gear. “By providing a flexible yet comprehensive cloud-based platform through which to manage these types of communications, ChatSync is quickly becoming a mission-critical piece of many enterprise data streams.”
“Being named a finalist in the MITX Technology Awards is an important achievement,” said Kiki Mills, president of MITX. “This recognition translates into increased exposure with media, industry analysts and investors, and provides them a higher profile in their industry. We congratulate all of the finalists on their achievement and wish them luck in the competition.”

Finalists represent the spectrum of innovation in New England’s technology sector, demonstrated by eleven categories at this year’s awards, which include: Analytics and Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Devices, E-Commerce/Alternative Retail, Marketing/Customer Relationship Technologies, Mobile Application, Mobile Infrastructure, Online Advertising, Rich Media, Social Media, and Technology Enablers.
Dexrex Gear will be recognized with the other finalists in the category of cloud computing at an awards ceremony attended by the region’s top technology and business professionals. Winners will be announced at the ceremony at the Boston Marriott Copley Place on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

In addition to being selected as a finalist for their category, finalists are eligible for a ‘Best of’ award and for a ‘Promise’ award, which recognizes start-up companies whose emerging technology solutions show promise to make a significant business impact.

The MITX Technology Awards program is sponsored through the generous support of: The Atom Group, DLA Piper, LEWIS PR and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Creative partners include: Corey Machanic, Height&Hands, massAV, and PJ Moore: Brand Design & Strategy.

About Dexrex Gear

Dexrex Gear is an information technology company that provides consumer and business textual data management services for instant message (IM) networks and mobile text (SMS) messages. Founded in 2005, the company is located in Cambridge. Dexrex Gear is committed to the privacy, security, and unification of personal communications. Dexrex Gear provides a suite of platforms for compliance, productivity, and e-discovery. The company’s goal is to organize textual communication and make all text portable. For more information visit www.dexrexgear.com.

About MITX

The Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX) is the region’s premier professional organization for the Internet business and marketing industry. Reaching more than 7,500 professionals in New England, MITX is the community for thought leadership, building business relationships and professional training and development. Members of the MITX community take advantage of events, sponsorships, speaking opportunities and networking to make business connections and exchange ideas. With more than 60 events annually, MITX provides its members with the opportunity to promote their companies to targeted audiences and provides a valuable forum for networking with other likeminded peers to source potential business leads, partnerships, ideas, and funding. MITX is headquartered in Cambridge, MA. Visit us at www.mitx.org.

Social networking boosts legal, regulatory compliance headaches

For companies, the sites are too valuable as sales tools to block

By Lucas Mearian
May 10, 2010 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld – Popular social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, are causing a stir in the financial services community as well as other highly regulated industries as companies seek ways to control how the sites are used to communicate with potential clients and colleagues.

Social networking sites have proved valuable for sales-lead generation, marketing and general broker-client relations, but regulators have been quick to take notice and to offer the same warnings they did more than a decade ago when e-mail and instant messaging (IM) became common.

However, controlling communications on social networking Web sites is far more complex for corporations because they’re attempting to control communications on Web sites that are outside their IT systems and that are almost continuously changing or adding to the number of applications that can be used to network.

“It is a big issue. In fact, I think it’s a bigger issue [than e-mail and IM],” said Ted Ritter, an analyst with Nemertes Research. “For IM and e-mail, you pretty much use standard port and protocols. You just have to be in the right spot in the network to capture it and monitor it.”

Social networks are more akin to webmail, where there are many different ways to access the sites, which makes it more complicated from a technology standpoint, Ritter said.

“For instance, what do you do about people who have mobile updates to Facebook?” he said. “From an audit standpoint, as auditors become more aware of the issues, they are going to look for controls.”

Ritter said businesses will not only have to monitor social networking communications, but they will have to capture the traffic, audit it and log it.

Issue first cropped up with e-mail, IM

Around the turn of the century, the financial services industry grappled with controlling IM and e-mail traffic. Soon after the electronic messaging mediums became popular, a pattern emerged in the business community where financial firms would first block all electronic communications external to the company, then they would adopt proprietary e-mail applications for corporate wide communications or restrict the ports over which IM traffic could travel in order to monitor and capture the communications.

The same patterns are emerging with social networking, experts say, and seeding a cottage industry of vendors offering software and services to control and capture corporate social networking traffic. Some of those vendors include enterprise instant messaging security vendor FaceTime Communications, firewall provider PaloAlto Networks, IM and mobile text messaging archiving firm DexRex Gear and SaaS middleware provider Socialware.

Today, many businesses are attempting to simply block all access to social networking sites for employees who would fall under regulatory scrutiny, such as broker-dealers and sales and marketing representatives, even though these employee are finding the sites invaluable.

“The first step organizations needs to take is they need a reality check,” Ritter said. “They need to take ownership of what’s going on in social networking. Just blocking sites doesn’t work. Employees always find a way around it. And letting everything through is too risky.”

Ritter and other industry experts say social networking sites present a far greater oversight problem than IM or e-mail — even webmail – because there are so many applications associated with them, including instant messaging tools and gaming applets, such as Farmville or Mafia Wars on Facebook. Simply blocking sites such as Twitter or Facebook with a URL filter isn’t difficult.

“The problem you have is all the tunneling applications that can get around those controls,” said Chris King, director of product marketing for PaloAlto Networks. “Google [the term] ‘circumventing URL filtering,’ and you’ll see what I mean. Some blog sites like Lifehacker.com, and even the Wall Street Journal, publish things like top 10 ways to get around your security controls.”

For example, King said, a company employee could simply install a proxy on a home computer, connect it to a cable modem, and when the employee is at work he can connect to that home IP address and circumvent the corporate filter.

“There’s everything from Proxy.org, an application called UltraSurf, which is the darling of high school students, to something called Core, which is the darling of spies,” there’s a whole bunch of applications that make getting around traditional controls easy.

Regulators cast a watchful eye

Over the past 10 years, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulatory bodies have focused more attention on strict enforcement of communications rules. For example, the SEC’s Rule 17a-4 requires the monitoring and capture of electronic communications, and the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) Rule 2210 and 3010, also requires firms to monitor and store communications with clients. Neither agency has as yet felt compelled to specify requirements around social networking traffic, but it is implicit that they fall under the same rules as e-mail and IM, Ritter said.

In 2006, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) established that companies must establish protocols for capturing electronically stored information prior to civil court cases. Electronic discovery of e-mails for civil court cases can run into the millions of dollars, and violations of federal regulatory statutes could lead to penalties that aren’t cheap either. In 2002, the SEC fined five firms a total of $8.25 million for violating 17a-4 and NASD Rule 3110 by not properly monitoring and capturing e-mail traffic.

In a more recent example, several hedge-fund executives and managers with the Galleon Group, were charged with insider trading. The evidence that cracked the case open? A single text message.

Most recently, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the enforcement arm of the SEC, issued Regulatory Notice 10-06, a document presented in a Q&A format, that provides guidance on the responsibilities of firms to supervise the use of social networking sites. The guidance was issued to ensure that recommendations to clients on social networks are suitable and that their customers are not misled.

“The FINRA guidance has sent the financial community scrambling to figure out what to do,” Ritter said. “Let’s say a broker becomes a fan of a company on Facebook. Is that an endorsement? In essence it is.”

Other regulations focused on corporate transparency and consumer privacy will likely also affect controls around social networking communication. Those regulations include the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.

Social networks too valuable to block

Social networking is an enormously popular way to communicate with prospective clients and to generate sales leads, particularly among younger financial services employees, experts say.

“We’ve heard anecdotally that the top advisers at [a leading financial planning and investment firm] – the number one and two advisers – are some of the most proficient users of social media,” said Chad Bockius, vice president of marketing and product strategy at Socialware, a provider of SaaS social network monitoring and management tools.

Bockius said Socialware is about to publish the results of a survey of more than 200 financial advisers who were asked how many new clients and new sales leads they generated as a result of social media. “The results are pretty impressive, as in 20%,” he said.

“You still have people saying, ‘we don’t need to use Facebook or need to be on LinkedIn. Those tools are for high school kids, or they’re for use by people stopping by Starbucks.’ That’s just simply not the case,” Bockius continued. “There really is tangible business value you can get from these tools.”

King said the problem with social networking is the business side of a company wants to interact with the younger generation of customers through their preferred channel, but the company’s IT side has a hard time finding the tools necessary to control that traffic.

New tools for compliance

“The compliance and security folks are saying, ‘Whoa, we’re completely unable to adopt these communications channels given the regulatory requirements,” King said. “We’re in a unique position because we’re a firewall company and can see and control these applications.”

PaloAlto uses firewall policy management software to control external communications at the application layer, through a user’s ID and by content type.

Global investment bank Greenhill & Co. Inc. used PaloAlto’s software to monitor and capture webmail used by its employees, which it said raised concerns about data security and its overall compliance stance.

“We needed better visibility into our network in order to block access to certain applications – especially Gmail over HTTPS,” John Shaffer, Greenhill’s director of global systems and technology said in a statement. “We could see users were circumventing our blocking solution by switching to SSL encrypted versions of webmail applications.”

Greenhill’s URL filtering, spyware and firewall activities were being managed by separate devices, and the company was looking for way to consolidate those services on one control panel to reduce complexity and expense.

The company allowed PaloAlto to demonstrate its firewall, and “it instantly unearthed users accessing Facebook, Gmail, RSS, Google Desktop, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Meebo, Skype and Yahoo! Mail.”

“For the first time we could see exactly which users were accessing specific applications,” Shaffer said.

The market potential for supplying social networking monitoring software hasn’t been lost on entrepreneurs either.

DexRex, for example, was launched from a University of Massachusetts at Amherst dorm room in 2005 by two avid text messagers, Derek Lyman and Richard Tortora. The company recently secured $1 million in private funding..

Earlier this week, DexRex launched ChatSync v2.2, which uses extensible APIs (application programming interfacea) to plug into users’ devices, messaging clients or servers in order to archive social networking communications. The service is offered both through an onsite appliance or a cloud-based SaaS model. The software provides real-time capture of social networking communications by pushing content and its metadata from Web access portals.

ChatSync 2.2 also can monitor and capture for audit e-mail, IM, SMS and social media communications, including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, according to Lyman.

Lyman said the market for message capture is driven by regulatory data retention requirements, with legal discovery needs taking second place.

“We’re capturing the whole category of alternative text-based communications and partnering up with the existing e-mail service providers,” Lyman said. “The e-discovery side really does dictate why they want these records, and the regulators are expecting to see them.”

Dan Srebnick, associate commissioner of IT Security for the New York Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, said the city is using FaceTime’s software for malware, spyware and Web filtering rather than for controlling employees’ attempts to use social networks. The agency is also monitoring that activity to ensure it is consistent with the city’s communications, marketing and branding policies.

“Our issue with social media is less about how to restrict it, and more about how to enable it,” Srebnick said.

The DoITT acts as the clearinghouse, or registry, for municipal agencies that have pages on social networking sites for posting public announcements and for interacting with residents. Agencies with those pages much declare them and give DOITT their user IDs and passwords to ensure those pages can continue to be maintained if the employee in charge leaves the agency.

“These sites are not about the person. They’re an official communications mechanism of the City of New York,” Srebnick said. The DoITT also developed a citywide social media policy that provides overall governance on how agencies should use social networks.

Srebnick said he recognizes that in the future, he will likely look into enabling Facetime’s security features. He pointed to last week’s Facebook glitchwhere a bug allowed users to view friend’s chat sessions as a reason why.

“If we had that kind of control available to us and we knew there was a problem on a particular social media site that could compromise the city’s ability to do business in a secure manner, we could take control over that or we could have the ability to audit that,” he said. “The idea of having flexible control over a media site in terms of what features could be used and how they’re used could be a very powerful thing from a security perspective.”

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

Read more about Financial Services in Computerworld’s Financial Services Knowledge Center.

Dexrex Gear Launches New Release of Cloud-based ChatSync Messaging Management Platform with Advanced Social Media Data Management Capabilities

New version helps enterprises efficiently manage the capture, archiving and accessing of real-time textual messages in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for compliance and e-discovery

Cambridge, Mass. (May 3, 2010) — Dexrex Gear, a leading developer of cloud-based enterprise data management solutions for businesses’ mobile text (SMS) and instant message (IM) communications, has launched version 2.2 of its popular ChatSync platform, adding increased support of well-known social media platforms and increased customization features for enterprises.
Dexrex Gear’s cloud-based ChatSync message archiving and management platform, which is already compatible with the most popular IM clients from companies such as Skype, Yahoo!, AOL, Microsoft and others, now offers broad support for messaging and communications from social media communities Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Such social media platforms are increasingly penetrating the enterprise environment as users communicate during work hours and companies take advantage of the cost benefits of using on-demand platforms for business communications and collaboration. ChatSync provides innovative enterprises with the ability to capture, store and manage those communications in a cloud-based environment for a variety of purposes, from security to FINRA and other regulatory compliance to business intelligence.
“It is clear that the enterprise environment will not be able to avoid the social media revolution, and as a result, many companies are proactively embracing it and using these new capabilities to their advantage,” said Derek Lyman, co-founder and CEO of Dexrex Gear. “ChatSync allows those innovative companies that use social media as part of their day-to-day operations to do so with the confidence of control and security.”
The new version of ChatSync retains its original functionality while bolstering its interaction with the unique challenges associated with the growing community of social media providers and platforms.
“The nature of enterprise communications is changing drastically with the rise of instant messaging, SMS and social media, in a fashion similar to the way e-mail altered the collaboration landscape over a decade ago,” said Brian Babineau, Senior Analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. “The SEC changed the way e-mail needed to be managed and retained with one interpretation – namely the update to Rules 17a-3 & 4. What many forget is that this elevated industries’ attention and spurred many of the legal changes in dealing with electronically stored information. With FINRA issuing a similar interpretation centering on social networks in January, companies need to be ready for a sequel in terms of updating archiving strategies to include new age collaboration and communication mediums.”
The latest iteration of ChatSync also boasts a new API, increasing customization features for partners and original equipment manufacturers addressing the enterprise market.
“We have seen a number of companies try and develop home-grown solutions to the challenge of managing social media communications, but because they are ad-hoc and unfocused, they are rarely successful across the multiple levels of social media,” added Lyman. “The fact is, it’s harder than it looks, but ChatSync is specifically designed for the unique challenges of social media platforms and fills in the gaps usually left by home-grown solutions.”
ChatSync works by capturing and offloading text-based messages via a client plug-in, proxy or SIP script deployment into a secure and centralized storage platform within the cloud, where it is normalized and archived in a structured database to ensure fast and efficient search and retrieval for compliance, e-discovery, and adherence to storage best practices.
ChatSync also uses extensible APIs to plug into users’ devices, messaging clients or messaging servers, and archived content and metadata can be pushed from the platform to message powered services like Web access portals, monitoring applications or compliance tools. The Dexrex Gear architecture enables multiple deployment methods for Dexrex Gear ChatSync, including SaaS, a virtual appliance, and a hardware appliance. Those options enable the solution to run parallel to existing communications systems with no pass-through or single point of failure.
The new ChatSync version is available now from Dexrex Gear resellers. For more information contact sales@dexrexgear.com.
About Dexrex Gear
Dexrex Gear is an information technology company that provides consumer and business textual data management services for instant message (IM) networks and mobile text (SMS) messages. Founded in 2005, the company is located in Cambridge. Dexrex Gear is committed to the privacy, security, and unification of personal communications. Dexrex Gear provides a suite of platforms for compliance, productivity, and e-discovery. The company’s goal is to organize textual communication and make all text portable. For more information visit www.dexrexgear.com.
Media Contacts

Efrain Viscarolasaga
Elevate Communications
+1 (617) 861–3652
efrain@elevatecom.com

John Gates
Elevate Communications
+1 (617) 861–3651
john@elevatecom.com

The Complicated Convergence of Communications and Compliance

One of the things that is increasingly driving IT organizations to distraction is how to invoke compliance policies in a world where electronic mail is only one of many mediums used. Today, proprietary information is more likely to exit a company via a text message on a mobile device, a social media network or an instant message than it is via an e-mail message.

If all these communications systems are delivered and managed separately, the chances of detecting content that should not be shared over these media is slim to none. To help customers deal with this issue, Dexrex Gear is adding support for social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to an archiving service that is delivered via a cloud computing service.

Chances are you never heard of Dexrex Gear or its ChatSync service. Dexrex Gear provides an archiving service for instant messages and text messages that is delivered via managed service providers that specialize in managing electronic mail systems on behalf of enterprise customers. Rather than sell this service directly to corporate customers, Dexrex Gear CEO Derek Lyman says it’s more efficient to sell an archiving service for non-traditional electronic communications platforms such as social networks through people that already have a relationship with customers in terms of providing e-mail services.

Whether you get your messaging service through a partner of Dexrex Gear may not be that much of a concern to the average IT organization. What is interesting about all this is whether more corporations are going to give up on running their own e-mail systems in the face of increased compliance complexities. It’s already hard enough to keep the e-mail servers running. Now add in instant messaging, social networking, video conferencing and large dose of compliance, and the whole effort gets downright daunting.

Lyman argues that by driving all their business communications through a single provider, it provides a single point of convergence that makes it a whole lot easier to manage all kinds of issues related to compliance. That’s a pretty compelling argument at a time when everyone is rethinking just where and when does internal IT add value to the organization. And chances are, managing the servers used to deliver electronic messages is not going to be one of those places.

Posted by Michael Vizard on IT Business Edge May 3, 2010 7:22:21 AM

Dexrex Gear Moves to New Facilities in Cambridge

Maker of ChatSync instant messaging and SMS archiving platform poised for growth in Cambridge’s technology hub
Cambridge, Mass. (March 9, 2010) — Dexrex Gear, a leading developer of cloud-based enterprise data management solutions for businesses’ mobile text (SMS) and instant message (IM) communications, has moved its corporate headquarters to Rogers Street in Cambridge, MA.
The new headquarters will house all of Dexrex Gear’s operations, including engineering, finance, sales, marketing and business development, which were previously split between offices in Amherst, MA and Newton, MA.
The move, which comes on the heels of a new $1 million round of financing, will provide the space and resources needed for Dexrex Gear’s projected growth over the coming year, during which time the startup expects to double in size.
“With ChatSync now in general availability and making inroads in both the consumer and enterprise markets, we needed to consolidate our operations into one location and prepare for the addition of new people and new positions as we enter this high-growth stage,” said Barrett Bilotta, CFO, Dexrex Gear. “Cambridge is a great location for us as a technology company, and ideally suited for recruiting some of the best talent New England has to offer.”
ChatSync was created by Dexrex founders Derek Lyman and Richard Tortora, CEO and CTO respectively, with the goal of providing enterprises with the tools necessary to manage the growing onslaught of real time communications such as instant messaging (IM) and SMS through increasingly disparate applications.
ChatSync also includes extensible APIs to plug into users’ devices, messaging clients or messaging servers, providing the ability to push archived content and metadata to message powered services like Web access portals, monitoring applications or compliance tools.
Dexrex Gear ChatSync supports enterprise platforms including IBM Lotus Sametime and Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS); consumer IM platforms such as Yahoo, Google Talk, Windows Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger; and for SMS it supports BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Google Android, as well as other SMS and messaging services.
Dexrex Gear’s multi-tenant architecture also allows resellers to set up their own customized and branded solution on Dexrex Gear’s managed platform directly though Dexrex Gear’s data centers. On-premise installations are also available if preferred.
Dexrex Gear ChatSync is available now from Dexrex Gear resellers. For more information contact sales@dexrexgear.com.

About Dexrex Gear
Dexrex Gear is a leading information technology company that provides consumer and business text data management services for instant message (IM) networks and mobile text (SMS) messages. Founded in 2005, the company is located in Boston. Dexrex Gear is committed to the privacy, security, and the universal accessibility of communications. Dexrex Gear provides a suite of platforms for compliance, productivity, and e-discovery. The company’s goal is to organize text communication and make all text portable. For more information visit www.dexrexgear.com.

Media Contacts
Efrain Viscarolasaga
Elevate Communications
+1 (617) 861-3652
efrain@elevatecom.com

John Gates
Elevate Communications
+1 (617) 861-3651
john@elevatecom.com