Slack flaunts enterprise handcuffs

Grid bondage puts admins in charge

Slack, the four-year-old team chat service that owes its popularity to email's shortcomings and some smart design decisions, has rolled out a version of the service for large organizations.

Slack Enterprise Grid offers the familiar team-focused chat features but with centralized controls and the ability to integrate with many of the enterprise apps that large organizations have inflicted upon themselves.

Slack's App Directory lists some 900 integrations, covering categories like Analytics, Bots, Customer Support, HR, Sales, and Travel, to name a few. The Grid release adds support for three SAP services: its Hana Cloud Platform, SuccessFactors, and Concur.

Grid includes unlimited workspaces, which enable channel-based chat, threaded messaging, voice and video calling, and integrations via API. But it wraps these workspaces with administrative controls that allow administrators to set permissions and authorize integrations with other services on a per-workspace basis.

Slack's software manages to provide both local focus and global reach. Teams have their own workspaces but can be linked, by the grace of admin, through shared channels. This arrangement spares each team from overexposure to chatter from other teams while still providing a way to get the word out when needed.

At the same time, Grid provides a layer that spans the organization – so functions like search can be aware of resources beyond the team level. The single infrastructure layer serves as a common foundation for security, policy, and compliance across an organization, and for creating workspace-specific policies.

Controls of this sort can be used to comply to regulations like FINRA and HIPAA, for which Slack has been certified. There's also support for services that assist with e-discovery, data loss prevention, and offsite data backup and archiving.

Whatever else Slack's Grid may be, at least it's not email. ®

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