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Cisco Revives Jabber for Enterprise Collaboration

Remember Jabber? In 2008, in a bid to bolster its collaboration efforts, Cisco acquired the lead commercial vendor behind the open source Jabber XMPP instant messaging technology.

Now, two and half years later, the networking giant is bringing the Jabber name back to the forefront, unveiling the new Cisco Jabber product offering. Cisco Jabber is an effort to unify and expand existing Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) instant messaging and collaboration technologies, including the Cisco WebEx Connect and Cisco Unified Personal Communicator (CUPC).

Cisco is first releasing Cisco Jabber for Mac, which will be followed by a Windows client.

"Going forward we'll have a new Jabber for Windows client that will end up taking the best of what exists in WebEx Connect and the CUPC client, and that will be the replacement for both of those technologies," Raj Gossain, vice president of product management at Cisco's Collaboration Software, told InternetNews.com.

As to why the company is targeting Mac first, Gossain explained that it was just a matter of timing, as Cisco doesn't yet have a Mac version of CUPCE and was in the process of building one anyways.

Jabber is an instant messaging technology that leverages the XMPP protocol for messaging, presence and voice capabilities. Google also uses XMPP as the underlying technology for its Google Chat service. Other vendors, including IBM, also use the technology.

Cisco Jabber will federate with other XMPP servers, Gossain said. He added that WebEx Connect, which will be folded into Cisco Jabber, can also interoperate with instant messaging clients AOL and Microsoft, with work ongoing for interoperability with Yahoo Messenger.

Cisco is also tapping the Jabber XMPP protocol for use in other platforms.

"We continue to leverage XMPP to be a pervasive technology that we're using within the collaboration space," Gossain said. "We have an internal development effort across multiple business groups at Cisco to extend XMPP libraries so they can be repurposed and reused within Cisco."

Though Cisco has owned the Jabber name since 2008, it hadn't debuted a branded Jabber product, until now.

"There is some brand equity. It speaks to the open interoperable nature of where we're taking our collaboration platform," Gossain. "Honestly, part of it is also the fact that the name tested well. It just seemed like a logical naming evolution from some of the existing naming conventions that we've had."

Cisco acquired Jabber at roughly the same time that it acquired Linux-based email vendor PostPath. The PostPath product evolved into the Cisco Mail platform, which the company recently discontinued. Gossain noted that email isn't the same as what Jabber's technology offers, and isn't likely to suffer the same fate as the former PostPath technology.

"We're 100 percent committed to driving pervasive deployments of Jabber messaging," he said. "We have now unified and rationalized it from a branding and deployment perspective, so you'll just see continued innovation from us on this. There is no backtracking here and we're fully committed to this space."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.