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The open-source development project, Jabber Enterprise instant messaging solution is intended to allow users to chat not only with other Jabber users but also with users of AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. Currently it is the only product on the market to support multiple IM clients.

Jabber IM includes corporate-level control and security that allows administrators to exercise control over employees by imposing different access privileges for groups and users. This client/server solution is easy to use and contains strong collaboration and security features. Deploying this solution can help your employees and customers solve time-sensitive problems and quickly work out business issues. Yet, with no support for Tribal Voice PowWow, we give it a score of Consider.

Unlike Lotus Sametime and Microsoft ‘s Exchange 2000 Conference Server, two well-known proprietary IM solutions, Jabber is an open-source, XML-based enterprise IM solution. It provides the best of two worlds: the capability of leveraging open source while simultaneously deploying performance testing and highly scalable commercial products.

We tested the Jabber Enterprise IM solution, which includes the JCS (Jabber Commercial Server), the JIM (Jabber Instant Messenger) Client, and a variety of administrative tools for managing the Jabber platform. The JCS supports the open-source protocols and provides a plug-and-play architecture that allows companies to create their own applications or modify existing ones. Although a standard for open source does not yet exist, by using open source for IM, companies will be ready to adapt to emerging standards as they become available.

The Jabber server also supports several methods of ensuring overall security and privacy. For starters, it supports SSL (secure sockets layer) connections for all client-to-server communications, ensuring that user names, passwords and messages cannot be intercepted as they are transmitted through the Internet as plain text. Secondly, users must have permission to access their "presence" information, giving them control over who can and cannot see that they are online.

The server also encrypts the password to ensure that a stolen user database will not give away access to a user account. Additionally, server-to-server dial-back ensures that messages sent to a particular user originated from a valid Jabber server before a connection is established and a communication channel opened. It supports local password and conversation log encryption. Jabber Server also supports LDAP (lightweight directory access protocol) authentication and SQL database access.

Jabber can be installed on all major platforms including Windows, Mac, and Linux. A Jabber Software Development Kit includes tools, documentation and sample code to extend both Jabber clients and servers. Companies interested in Jabber may download a free development version of the software and clients from Jabber's Web site.

We downloaded and installed the Jabber Linux client in a matter of minutes. In order to use Jabber, we registered our account information with a Jabber server, as if setting up an account with an ISP. As with other clients, users also have a choice of servers depending upon their needs.

If a user is interested in chatting with colleagues with non-Jabber IM services, he or she will need to set up a gateway with those services. This process takes a couple more minutes, depending on how many IM services are set up, but once the task is completed, Jabber will automatically connect to the appropriate servers with each user log-in.

Once installed on the system, we could have one-on-one chats with another user or create a multiple participant text conference, with any combination of ICQ, MSN and Yahoo users. We could also create a tree to sort contacts by department, such as HR or research, or by more personal groups, such as vendor contacts, family and friends.

As an open-source solution, Jabber IM allows companies to take advantage of other IM services and leverage open-source development and applications. Furthermore, Jabber can help keep employees productive without putting corporate information at risk. For companies not already using integrated collaborative environment solutions - such as those provided by IBM Lotus and Microsoft, which already include embedded IM functions - Jabber is clearly a solution to consider.

The bottom line - Jabber Enterprise IM solution *CONSIDERBusiness Case: This IM tool helps companies set up a secure and real-time collaborative solution that can leverage open source and that allows users to communicate with users on different IM systems.

Technology Case: Jabber Commercial Server is an open-source solution that enables companies to develop their own specific applications. In addition, the security and privacy tools are simple to activate and implement enterprise-wide.

Pros:

+ Open-source development support.

+ Interoperability with most IM solutions.

+ Reliable security and privacy tools.

Cons:

- No Tribal Voice PowWow support.

- No support for rich-site summary IM solutions.

Cost: $US10-$US35 per user; free development version.

Platform(s): Supports all major platforms including Windows, Mac and Linux.www.jabber.com.


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