9 Sep 2017
Blog » Self-Hosted Messengers and Chat Apps for Enterprises - Important Requirements
Enterprises often want to have full control of the data and thus the servers of the software which they use. This is important to ensure maximum data protection and security. Those enterprises require a self-hosted solution of a messenger or chat app, which can be deployed in a private cloud or the on-premise infrastructure of the business.
Most of the US vendors of messengers and chat apps for enterprises only provide cloud solutions. Microsoft Teams, Cisco Spark, Slack and several other chat based collaboration tools from the USA are only offered as cloud services. Enterprise messengers like Teamwire that are provided as self-hosted solutions for on-premise and private cloud infrastructures are an exception nowadays. However, especially many European enterprises and public sector organizations need a self-hosted solution of a messenger and chat app due to data protection, security, compliance and regulatory reasons. Today we want to have look what requirements a professional self-hosted messenger and chat app should fulfill in order to be a good fit for enterprises and public sector organizations:
1. Easy Installation of the Software
The software of the messenger should be very easy to set up for an enterprise in a self-hosted infrastructure. Ideally the software should require only a minimal number of firewall changes and should be available in a container that to a large extent does the installation by itself.
2. Scalable Solution for Medium-Sized Businesses and Large Enterprises
The chat app should provide a scalable solution for a self-hosted infrastructure that works reliably not only for small businesses but for medium-sized enterprises and large corporations as well. An on-premise or private cloud server of the messenger should deliver messages, digital content and push notifications reliably for the required number of users of the enterprise.
3. High-Availability Architecture and Cluster Setups
The chat app should offer high-availability cluster setups for the self-hosted server environment. This is important for enterprises (e.g. healthcare and financial services) and organizations (e.g. emergency services and police) that require 24/7 uptime and want to ensure a maximum service level.
4. Minimum Infrastructure Requirements
The messenger for the enterprise should work well with as little infrastructure and servers for the self-hosted environment as possible. For example, if a chat app needs 5 servers for an on-premise setup for 100 users, something is clearly not right.
5. Multi-Tenant and Multi-Domain Capability
Enterprises with different business units and organizations need a chat app which is multi-tenant capable and allows to easily manage tenants individually. Enterprises which use various email domains will require a messenger that is multi-domain capable and creates user directories for the domains automatically.
6. Professional Administration
The messenger should provide an easy to use and professional administrator portal for the self-hosted infrastructure for the enterprise. In general, businesses require an administrator portal with user administration, access management, service monitoring, organizational policies, communication rules and service configuration.
7. Active Directory Synchronization
In order to simplify and automate the user management and invitation, the enterprise chat app should feature an LDAP or active directory (AD) import or synchronization. Such a feature saves the administrator of the enterprise a lot of time.
8. Easy Roll-Out to User Base and MDM/EMM Support
The enterprise messenger should enable an easy and fast roll-out to all employees. Therefore the chat app should support mobile device management (MDM) and enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions like MobileIron and Airwatch, and should allow automated roll-outs on mobile devices.
9. WhatsApp User Experience and Cross-Platform Apps
In order to be accepted by the employees as a WhatsApp alternative for the enterprise and ensure maximum productivity, the self-hosted messenger should provide a Whatsapp user experience and feature set on all clients and provide apps for all mobile and desktop platforms.
10. API and Integration in the IT Ecosystem
The integration of a chat app into the IT ecosystem of the enterprise is an increasingly important productivity topic: Workflows can be accelerated, processes can be automated, the information exchange can be optimized and employees get more productive. Therefore a self-hosted chat app should offer an open API and integrations into the IT ecosystem of the enterprise.
11. Strong Data Protection
The self-hosted messenger should meet the data protection requirements of the enterprise. Thus the messenger should comply with national data protection laws and the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and should ensure privacy be design and data economy (e.g. no address book storage and no meta data analysis).
12. Leading Security
The chat app for the enterprise should provide strong encryption in order to protect all data. The meta data, the messages and the digital content should be strongly encrypted by the messenger during the transmission and when stored on the devices and the self-hosted server.
13. Audit and Compliance Features
The enterprise chat app should offer an audit-proof archive of all the messages of the employees and comprehensive audit logs. In addition, the messenger should provide all required policies to ensure company-wide compliance.
14. Comprehensive Documentation and Professional Support
The self-hosted chat app should come with an extensive documentation and offer professional enterprise support (ideally by integrators and professional services).
15. Regular Updates
In order to ensure innovation, product lead, security and maintenance, the messenger should deliver regular updates for the apps and the self-hosted server.