An open-source alternative enters the IM fray, trumpeting a
challenge to AIM's dominance of the market.
What's been dubbed the "Instant Messaging War" has centered on
skirmishes between outside firms gaining unauthorized access to
America Online, Inc.'s instant
Many regard America Online's claim of security interests as a
ruse to protect its commercial profits from the service. As an
alternative, there are groups that do more than give lip service to
developing an open instant messaging standard.
Open book Jabber.org is an open-source
platform for instant messaging applications backed by the
open-source project and by commercial developer Jabber.com.
Open-source means that the difference between Jabber and other
instant messaging systems is that hundreds of developers worldwide
work on Jabber's project development. The open system permits
nearly anyone to operate their own instant messaging systems which
can talk to all other Jabber systems.
Jabber works much like e-mail and it uses XML technology at its
IETF leads the way
In March the Internet Engineering
Task Force requested proposals from leading instant messaging
firms to develop a standard that would quell the instant messaging
protocol wars. Last week marked the deadline for submission of
proposals. Each company's proposal focused on varying mechanisms by
which instant messaging could be unified to foster full
Because Jabber is an open-source project, it has no political
interest in seeing one solution win over another. It operates
backward through systems so it is capable of bridging both new and
The commercial arm of the project could reap the reward of
software distribution of the program, if it is used as the core of
the IETF's recommendations due out in July.
While the world awaits an IETF-approved standard, Jabber
provides companies with in open platform for instant messaging
Miller & Co.
Jabber was founded by Jeremie Miller in 1998, and while the instant
messaging project is the work several hundred individuals, it's
coordinated by a core group of about a dozen developers. Miller
continues to lead the project, with assistance and support from
Jabber.com and Webb Interactive Services, Inc.
Miller said support from developers and employees alike landed
on the Jabber solution to instant messaging interoperability.
"We believe our developers provide Jabber.com access to the best
expertise available for commercialization of instant messaging
services that ensures an open source standard," Miller said.
He added that should the Jabber platform be adopted by the IETF,
instant messaging would truly achieve its potential to become one
of the most important and successful open source projects in the
It's here; it's real
The Jabber open-source project released v1.0 of the Jabber Server
in May. According to the working group, several thousand copies of
the application were downloaded within weeks of its release.
Technicians and system administrators fired up hundreds of
Jabber-based instant messaging servers after installing and
configuring the application through their networks.
Instant messaging is more than a way to ping a pal to see if
they're online. It's recognized as one of the strategic gateways to
consumer adoption of Voice over IP, as well as wireless
Fighting the big blue triangle
While several instant messaging firms complain that AOL is blocking
access to its instant messaging services, FreeIM.org announced it was creating a
coalition of instant messaging companies to petition government
agencies for a shared access standard.
Unlike most activities that take place on the Internet, instant
messaging currently has no standard. Much like the e-mail industry
in the 1980's, consistent standards are a precondition to
Interoperability is important not only as a convenience for
consumers, but also as a foundation for unified messaging to fit
into the scheme of things in business-to-consumer and
The technology offers the industry an opportunity to redefine
instant messaging services to transform IM into a far more
strategic and fundamental component of the Internet
Jabber is capable of the pulling the politicking out of instant
messaging issues today.
But will it be able to survive competition with AOL's profitable
propriety system, tomorrow?
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