Messaging worlds on course to merge

Talks are under way to bridge the gap between rival IETF instant messaging protocols, paving the way for development of new collaboration technologies.

Speaking at an IM Planet Show panel in San Jose, California, representatives from the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) and Session Initiation Protocol for IM and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE) standards camps said preliminary talks had begun.

"The groups plan to talk more about interoperability at the IETF meeting in November," chief architect at Jabber, said Joe Hildebrand, said.

Once interoperability work began, the standards groups would look at combining existing IM technology and developing new technology, he said.

Other panellists included SIP and SIMPLE co-author and CTO at Dynamicsoft, Jonathan Rosenberg, and founder, chairman, and CEO of Antepo, Maxime Seguineau.

Illustrating the potential for interoperability, the non-profit Jabber Software Foundation also announced last week the public availability of two gateways designed to extend XMPP networks to SIMPLE and Wireless Village IM implementations.

The SIMPLE gateway is built for IBM's Lotus Instant Messaging implementation of SIMPLE. Both SIMPLE and XMPP are nearing final ratification by the IETF.

IM standards development was "a big-time issue" due to the significant development and market opportunities in enterprise IM and presence technology, president of Relevance, Rob Batchelder, said.

"Big companies like Oracle, Sun, and BEA are looking at this as a critical enabler for real-time enterprise," Batchelder said.

Uniting the factional standard efforts in IM could help spur enterprise adoption of the technology, and possibly propel the major public networks, namely AOL, Yahoo!, and Microsoft, into action.

"Two things freezing the market for IM are dual standards tracks and the stubbornness of the major IM networks," Batchelder said.

Although the initial talks between XMPP and SIMPLE camps stayed safely within the bounds of interoperability, the possibility of merging the efforts into a single standard would yield the most benefit to the industry, Batchelder said.

"Both [protocols] have looked at important pieces of the puzzle but not the [whole] issue," he said.