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Cisco Teams With Jabber For Collaborative Messaging

The deal gives Cisco's communications platform a capability -- multiuser chat -- missing from competing offerings from IBM and Microsoft, says Jabber.

Jabber, a real-time messaging company, on Tuesday plans to announce the integration of its Jabber Extensible Communications Platform (Jabber XCP) with Cisco's Unified MeetingPlace conferencing product, bringing video, voice, and Web conferencing to customers through the Jabber Messenger client.

With the addition of these capabilities, Cisco's communications platform gains a capability missing from competing offerings from IBM and Microsoft, according to Jabber CEO Paul Guerin: multiuser chat. "IBM and Microsoft don't even offer multiuser chat at this point," he says.

Jabber XCP is an open, real-time presence and messaging platform that makes communication easier by streaming XML data. The company has done similar integrations with Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional (formerly Macromedia Breeze) and WebEx.

"This is very much a customer-driven partnership," says Guerin. "Cisco is doing well with Wall Street and government customers, so it's a natural fit."

The Cisco-Jabber integration aims to make communication and collaboration easier by exposing presence information so workers know when their coworkers are free to interact and by providing easy access to voice, video, and Web conferencing.

In contrast with products like Microsoft's SharePoint, says Dave Uhlir, VP of marketing, "you don't have to sign your life away to a technology architecture" and deal with "massive integration efforts" to get workable collaboration.

Jabber counts 15 defense and intelligence agencies as customers, along with five of the eight largest investment banks in the United States.

"One of Jabber's core value propositions is you can extend the technology at almost any point, client or server or whatever," explains Guerin.

Another, says Uhlir, "is scalability and the ability to handle different protocols."

The ability to scale is about to become a big issue for collaborative messaging, Uhlir says. "We're right at the time of exponential growth in the number of nodes."

By that, he means collaborative communications infrastructures are growing rapidly as more devices become involved in data exchange.

Real-time messaging might once have been a matter of determining presence -- whether a user was near a phone and was available to talk. But it has become much more complex, with dozens of nodes per person in today's presence-enabled collaboration platforms.

One person doesn't mean one point of presence anymore, says Ulhir, who expects the number of nodes per person will triple in the coming year as devices like set-top boxes enter the picture, along with new mobile devices.

For the largest enterprises with hundreds of thousands of employees, a collaborative messaging system might require more than a million nodes.

"With a company that has 60,000 to 100,000 employees, you get to millions of points of presence," Guerin says. "Where this is going, all large companies are going to require a presence infrastructure that can scale."

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