VeriSign expects big things from AOL deal

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

VeriSign Inc hopes to give its digital certificate business a boost with next year's launch of enterprise instant messaging systems from AOL Time Warner Inc. VeriSign is providing security for the software, and expects to see "hundreds of thousands, if not millions" of cert shipments as a result, according to an executive.

AOL announced two weeks ago the release of an AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) gateway that allows enterprises to better administer employee IM with logging, control and reporting features. Security, the other big barrier to enterprise IM adoption, will be added some time next year, most likely in the first quarter.

"We're optimistic that the deal will lead to broader adoption of our services inside the enterprise," VeriSign VP of corporate technology strategy Mahi de Silva "It's an important milestone." He estimated that the deal could lead to millions of additional installed seats. AOL estimates that about 60% of enterprises already use AIM.

De Silva said he expects AOL will market the secure services to enterprises and also as part of a premium service to individual users, as a way to monetize a long-free service. Initially there may be two separate client bases, but AOL will likely converge the two, he said. AOL says it has about 180 million registered users, but the number of individual people is likely much smaller.

VeriSign charges $14.95 a year for individual "Class 1" certificates, but pricing for enterprises varies by volume and by what services they buy. It has 10 million or less certificates issued, with the mix heavily towards enterprise users. AOL has not yet fixed, or announced, pricing for its secure IM.

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