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HP turns to Jabber for enterprise IM

Instant messaging (IM) is fast emerging as a useful and productivity-enhancing enterprise technology, and many businesses have begun to embrace it in a serious way. In fact, according to the Gartner Group, instant messaging is proving to be a real driver of enterprise communications as companies seek to integrate IM and so-called presence technologies into their enterprise applications.

Gartner analyst Maurene Caplan Grey believes that vendor alliances in the IM space are fueling the current drive toward adoption of a common IM and presence protocol. "The accruing value of IM and presence is at the platform layer -- supporting line-of-business and collaborative applications across multiple devices and networks," Grey said in a statement.

One example of this trend can be seen in the alliance between industry heavyweight Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Jabber, a Denver-based IM and presence technology developer. The two companies announced last week that HP will resell a version of Jabber's enterprise instant-messaging framework that the two companies developed jointly for the HP-UX platform, as well as for Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 servers.

According to the terms of the agreement, the two companies will sell the Jabber framework jointly on these platforms and on the existing Linux-based platform to HP's worldwide customer base beginning in Q2 of this year. Financial details of the agreement were not available at press time.

The Jabber Communications Platform is an enterprise/carrier-grade IM and presence solution. ("Presence" refers to the ability of an application to tell when a user is online and available to receive a message.) The Jabber commercial product and its open-source counterpart, Jabber.org, are based on the eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP). XMPP is an XML-based data-transport technology that its proponents contend is better suited to handling IM and presence than a signaling technology. XMPP can be extended across disparate applications and systems because of its XML base. XMPP is being developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

HP's involvement with Jabber is seen -- at least by Jabber's president -- as an endorsement of XMPP, one of two competing messaging protocols.

"HP's agreement to co-develop, sell and service the Jabber platform within global accounts speaks to the gathering momentum behind Jabber and XMPP as the underlying architectures that will drive the adoption of a broad range of presence-enabled applications, beginning -- not ending -- with IM," said Jabber CEO Rob Balgley in a statement.

XMPP's competitor, Session Initiation Protocol for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (Simple), is also under construction by the IETF. Simple is a set of extensions to the established SIP protocol that initiate, set up and manage a range of media sessions, including voice and video. Simple extensions define SIP signaling methods to handle the transport of data and presence. Microsoft has said that it prefers Simple largely because of its capacity to unify voice, video and data messaging.

Jabber recently formed an alliance with another industry heavyweight, Intel. Under the terms of that agreement, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker will invest in Jabber and help the company to develop wireless products. Jabber plans to release an SMS Gateway for carriers and the enterprise in Q3 of this year, the firm's Balgley said. Jabber also has its sights set on releasing a mobile messaging gateway using the Wireless Village standard later this year. French carrier Orange currently uses Jabber's technology for its mobile IM service, according to company officials.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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