News / NetSfere emphasizes compliance, security and simplicity with cloud-based messaging platform
By Renee Caruthers, Aug 25, 2015

In the wake of financial scandals over the past few years that have seen chat rooms used to fix financial benchmarks, several of the largest firms have considered banning chat altogether. Yet the challenge is that in fast-paced financial markets, the immediacy of chat makes it one of the communications tools that finance professionals find most useful.

Enter NetSfere, a cloud-based mobile platform from Arlington Heights-based Infinite Convergence Solutions that emphasizes simplicity, security and compliance. The idea was to develop an enterprise messaging platform that would be easy for firms to deploy – and control.

"We felt there were clearly end users within the enterprise who enjoyed mobile messaging and liked the convenience of it, but who didn't necessarily understand how open-ended some mobile messaging applications are. They also didn't understand that by using these technologies, they were in essence really being in non-compliance with a lot of regulations in the industry," said Anurag Lal, CEO of Infinite Convergence.

The platform which was developed as an internal communications tool for companies, uses a security structure called an elliptical key exchange, which encrypts content at the user's device, transports it to the cloud, where it remains encrypted, and keeps it encrypted until it ultimately gets decrypted at the message recipient's device.

If an employee loses a device, the company's IT department has the ability to remotely wipe the device of all content. But, once the employee gets a new device, all past data can be immediately restored.

That content restoration is a glimpse of the platform's compliance capabilities, which Lal says includes strict document retention policies that can retain messages for up to 50 years. Lal says in developing NetSfere the company worked tirelessly to ensure compliance with regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) regulations, and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra) guidelines among others. In fact, the company has specifically targeted the platform toward heavily regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare.

The NetSfere platform is designed to be easy to deploy. IT organizations can invite users to join the platform, and once users download the app, they are on NetSfere.

Users can invite other NetSfere users into conversations. If someone is invited into an ongoing conversation among multiple people late into the conversation stream, the newcomer would automatically receive all messages since the start of the conversation, making it easier for the newcomer to catch up on the conversation's context without instruction.

While NetSfere is intended as an internal communications tool for improved productivity, the company plans to roll out a feature in the next several weeks that will allow users to invite someone from out outside the organization to participate in a conversation for a limited period of time. A member of a third party company would be able to communicate in a conversation to collaborate for the duration of a project, for example, but once the project was finished the policy would shut down the third party user's access to the platform.

The foundation for NetSfere is based in part on technology acquired from Motorola in 2010, when the electronics giant decided to divest of its messaging business as part of a strategy of focusing on more core businesses. Infinite Convergence continues to serve carriers that had been clients of Motorola's messaging business, but NetSfere came out of the company's view that the technology would also match corporate communication needs.

"Because of its prevalence, its convenience and the immediate response you get via mobile messaging, we thought it was a very appropriate pivot to the enterprise," Lal says.

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