Jabber adds IM, directory integration

JabberNow 1.1 now has more sophisticated archiving features.

Instant messaging vendor Jabber has released the next version of its IM appliance with a focus on interoperating with corporate directories and consumer services.

JabberNow 1.1 is designed to help customers integrate their deployments of IM with consumer services from Google and AOL. The appliance includes an add-on for integrating JabberNow with user information stored in Active Directory. Jabber also has added more sophisticated archiving features to help users meet compliance requirements.

"Interoperability capabilities are becoming much more critical [for IM]," says Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research. "If you look at the way IM is used now, it is useful for intracompany business, but increasingly it is going to become key for talking to people outside the company."

Osterman says AOL has done a good job federating its IM service. He says users with AOL Messenger can now talk to about 75% of IM users in the workplace. AOL has struck deals with Jabber, Microsoft and others using its AOL Federation Gateway.

Gateways now support interoperability between such services as Yahoo, AOL and MSN and corporate systems, such as Lotus Sametime, Microsoft Live Communications Server, Antepo, Jabber and WiredRed.

The hope is for such standards as Session Initiation Protocol and SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE) and Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) to provide that interoperability. A recent study by Osterman Research showed that half of corporate IM users would prefer a standard to support interoperability, but they are willing to accept the gateway, or federation, approach as an interim step.

Jabber is adding GoogleTalk directly into JabberNow, which first shipped last September and features a quick setup model. Jabber and Google support the XMPP, and Google users with open source XMPP clients also can access Jabber IM features such as multiuser chat.

Interoperability with AOL is done through a software add-on to the JabberNow appliance that supports server-to-server communication. Users don't get the depth of functionality Jabber offers on its platform, such as text conferencing, but connections with AOL users support presence information, IM and indicators when someone is typing. The names of Jabber users show up with a special icon in AOL buddy lists and vice versa, and Jabber users do not have to have AOL accounts to appear on AOL buddy lists.

Jabber also offers an add-on to integrate JabberNow with Active Directory. The integration adds a button to the Jabber client that lets users search the directory to find other users, who then can be invited into chat sessions or added to buddy lists.

The Active Directory add-on and the add-on to support AOL integration are loaded into the appliance using a Web-based administrative console.

Jabber also has developed a third add-on that is focused on archiving and reporting. The Message Archiving Plug-in lets users store all messages in a local database and eventually export them for storage to an external database.

Jabber is targeting its appliance to support 500 or more users. Jabber's XCP platform is targeted at larger, more sophisticated IM rollouts.

"With JabberNow we are looking at small-business knowledge workers and highly proprietary data-sharing workers, such as those at law firms or hedge funds," says Dave Uhlir, vice president of marketing for Jabber.

JabberNow 1.1 is priced at $2,500 for 25 users. The Active Directory add-on is $495 and the Message Archiving Plug-in is $999. The AOL add-on is free from Jabber but requires users to obtain a certificate from a trusted third party such as VeriSign to interact with AOL.

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