By Peter Saint-Andre, Technical Leader, Cisco Jabber Engineering
Since the late 1990s, Jabber technologies have been synonymous with open instant messaging, presence, XML routing, and real-time collaboration. Developed by Jeremie Miller, the original Jabber technology was an open-source server called jabberd, and the developer community that utilized its codebase has produced significant amounts of open-source software.
Because these technologies use a decentralized client-server architecture similar to that used for email, the focus has shifted toward standardization of the protocol used among clients, servers and other entities on the Jabber network. This protocol is called the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol, or XMPP.
Although the Jabber/XMPP technologies began as purely open source, the migration to an open-standards model allowed commercial software developers to participate. That opportunity has been pursued most decisively by Jabber Inc., which is renowned for its industrial-strength presence and messaging server, Jabber XCP.
Through its acquisition of Jabber Inc. in late 2008, Cisco has not only gained advanced technologies that will strengthen the real-time capabilities of its product lines, but has also assumed a leadership role in the Jabber/XMPP developer community.
In particular, key technologists at Jabber Inc. have long been active in the standardization of XMPP, both at the Internet Engineering Task Force IETF and the XMPP Standards Foundation XSF. Jabber Inc. led the way in the creation of the XSF in mid-2001 and in the effort to formalize the core of the protocol at the IETF in 2002-04.
The Jabber/XMPP community has fostered openness in four ways:
- Developers in the community have produced a large volume of open-source software code (the xmpp.org site provides links to code projects for servers, clients and code libraries).
- The XSF has contributed its core protocol to the Internet Standards Process at the IETF, and has published many extensions to the core protocol in its well-regarded series of XMPP Extension Protocols (XEPs). These specifications are contributed under the model of an intellectual property conservancy so that they can be implemented without restriction by developers and companies around the world.
- The XSF is an open membership organization in which participation is based on merit rather than financial support. This approach, modeled on the IETF and other open-standards development organizations, helps ensure that all communications take place on open discussion forums, so that developers from open-source projects and smaller companies can freely participate on a level playing field with larger corporations..
- Specifications and source code are not enough to help ensure the growth of distributed messaging technologies, since they must also be deployed on a functioning communications network.
Jabber technologies were designed for Internet-scale deployment over a decentralized network of servers. Jabber Inc. has been participating on that network all along, by running the jabber.com server and assisting with the jabber.org server, thus gaining crucial operational experience and encouraging further deployment of these technologies.
These activities are consistent with the founding principles of the Internet: rough consensus and running code. Those values have helped to ensure the openness of the Internet and the Jabber network. Cisco is dedicated to furthering those goals through its involvement with the XMPP community.
Cisco involvement in the open community is demonstrated by its activities in open standards, open source, and open extensibility, to develop the potential of the Human Network.
Learn more about Cisco contributions to the TM Forum Interface Program, and how this is helping to lower the operational costs of network support and maintenance.