Air Force signs on to Bantu IM

In its quest to improve real-time communications capabilities worldwide, the Air Force this week announced that it has purchased an enterprise license for the Bantu Inc. Instant Messaging and Presence Platform.

The purchase was made through Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Global Combat Support System-Air Force contract. The initial deployment is going to users of the Air Force portal, according to the company. The Bantu IM and Presence Platform already is used as part of the Army Knowledge Online and Navy Knowledge Online portals.

Bantu's solution enables users to see who is online throughout the Air Force community and instantly collaborate with them. Commanders who are deployed to remote locations worldwide can instantly and securely confer with staff members at headquarters and provide immediate feedback and real-time reporting of mission-critical information.

Larry Schlang, Bantu's president and chief executive officer, said the Air Force deal solidifies the company's leading position "as the provider of secure enterprise instant messaging to the U.S. government."

The contract was awarded Dec. 31, 2002, the roll-out of the Air Force portal began in March, and the enterprisewide roll-out of Bantu IM began this month, according to a company spokeswoman.

The value of the multi-year agreement was not disclosed, but the deal includes licensing, maintenance and services (implementation, integration, customization).

Bantu trained Air Force IT administrators on maintaining the IM platform, and the biggest remaining challenge is letting potential Air Force users know that the IM capabilities are now available, according to the company.

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