Slack Prepares Itself for the Enterprise?

We've heard rumblings through the No Jitter community that Slack will finally be introducing an enterprise version at an event in San Francisco next Tuesday, rumors circulating elsewhere, too.

While Slack is keeping details about the event hush-hush, an enterprise inroad couldn't come at a more critical time. With competitive team collaboration apps like Microsoft Teams, due out this quarter, and Workplace by Facebook, which came to market last October, Slack needs to move quickly to maintain and grow its market share, industry watchers believe. As noted in a Business Insider article, a Spiceworks survey of IT professionals has found that Microsoft Teams could pass up both Slack and Google Hangouts in terms of use in the workplace by as early as 2018. (See related No Jitter coverage, "Slack vs. Microsoft: Who's Really Got Enterprise Mettle?" and "Team Collaboration Battle Intensifies over App Integration")

In the same way as Microsoft Teams and Facebook's Workplace are structured, Slack for Enterprise will be a cloud-only product -- no on-premises version will be available, Business Insider tech reporter Matt Weinberg reported. Additionally, Slack for Enterprise will have a new, secure API for even deeper integration with other commonly used business applications, as well as enhanced security and analytics tools for enterprise IT departments, he wrote.

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Slack's website does not yet show details on pricing for its enterprise version, and visitors are still met with the "Coming Soon!" verbiage with which we've grown so familiar since a year and a half ago when Slack began promising its enterprise play. However, the website does show the list of features that the enterprise version is -- or at least had been -- slated to include, as you can see in the image to the right. Note that this feature list has been available for quite some time, so it very well may be outdated.

Enterprises have long been concerned with security when it comes to their communications and collaboration tools. In what appears to be a timely nod to Slack enterprise security features, the company recently released a white paper on its security practices and featured on its official blog and interview with Slack Chief Security Officer Geoff Belknap, who has been with Slack for just about a year now.

"I worry about providing the most secure product and the most secure work environment to protect our customers' data," Belknap said. "I take all the things that keep me up at night or that keep our customers up at night, and convert them into plans, metrics, and accountability. ... All of this is in service of building a security program that our customers can take comfort in and trust. Without that, we can't build solid partnerships and they can't unlock the real potential Slack holds for them."

Slack product security engineers use automated and manual analysis to ensure its products don't have any security defects, leveraging Slack's public bug bounty program to pull in findings from the larger research community and apply quick fixes, Belknap said. Additionally, Slack has earned SOC 2 Type I and Type II and SOC 3 certifications, meets CSA STAR Level 1 requirements, and has begun working with the Cloud Security Alliance.

"There will definitely be compliance merit badges ...," Belknap said, in relation to what's coming next for Slack security features. "What I can tell you is that our team has spent over a year investing our time and effort into meeting the rigorous security needs of our customers who work in highly regulated industries."

Certainly if Slack expects to move from a departmental to enterprise purchase, it is going to have to make a strong play on security. As Enterprise Connect GM Eric Krapf pointed out in a May No Jitter article, "Team collaboration apps like Slack and Cisco Spark are one of the hottest topics in enterprise communications these days. ... [But] The issue of security can't be understated."

Learn more about next-generation messaging and team collaboration trends and technologies at Enterprise Connect 2017, March 27 to 30, in Orlando, Fla. View the Next-Gen Messaging & Team Collaboration track, and register now using the code NOJITTER to receive $300 off an Entire Event pass or a free Expo Plus pass.

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