ForEx Traders to Use Jabber IM Platform

Some of the world’s busiest foreign exchange traders are slated to shift to a real-time standards based messaging system built by Jabber.

The Denver-based Jabber, which has its original roots in the open source Jabber project (now known as the Jabber Foundation) said it has formalized an agreement with EBS to provide an Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol platform for the traders’ instant messaging applications.

EBS was formed in 1993 by a partnership among some of the largest foreign exchange trading banks in the world such as Bank of America, Barclay, Credit Suisse First Boston, JP Morgan Chase and others. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to EBS, the company’s spot dealing system handles $100 billion dollars worth of spot foreign exchange transactions every day.

“The issue is that they were looking for more of a messaging platform that also does IM,” said Joe Hildebrand, Jabber’s chief architect. “They also wanted something that was standards based.”

After looking over Jabber’s offerings, and then open source version of Jabber and a couple others, the decision also came down to choosing the XMPP protocol for its platform, rather than the competing SIMPLE (Session Initiation Protocol for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions).

“They wanted XMPP for its XML, the fact that it has all of the transportation features that they need, and it has hooks into users to do presence and messaging,” Hildebrand told

Jabber’s Jabber XCP server is a commercial implementation of the open source XMPP protocol promoted by the Jabber Software Foundation (JSF). The JSF estimates that there are ten million users of XMPP and that the user base is larger than that of AOL’s ICQ instant messaging platform.

“We’ve set ourselves up with an open source community which has upsides and downsides for us as a commercial entity,” Hildebrand said. “However, the upsides far outweigh any downsides. Every once in a while somebody will pick the open source platform, often times for pilots and things like that and then come back to us when they want to implement their full up system.”

Hildebrand was quick to point out, however, that the open source version and the commercial version offered by Jabber are two different things. It’s not a dual-license type scenario that has become popular with other open source upstarts such as MySQL and Jboss, where support and professional services are the prime differentiators.

“Our first customer was Disney and they wanted to be able to do massive scale, which is something we couldn’t make the open source server do,” Hildebrand told “So we ended up re-writing it from scratch.”

Hildebrand said the difference between the open source version of Jabber and the commercial version is more than just about scale and support; features are key too. Jabber’s server was built from the ground up to be extensible in many different places, using whatever language, he said. “That sort of extensibility is what drove EBS to use our implementation of XMPP. What they wanted was the ability to plug-in their business logic throughout the platform.”

Though Jabber is a large supporter of the open source community, Jabber’s XCP Server is not an open source product.

“Our code doesn’t have any open source code in it,” Hildebrand told “We have a proprietary implementation of an open protocol.”

Hildebrand believes that enterprises are beginning to take a more strategic look at IM, thinking of it more in terms how it will hook into other systems and integrate with existing infrastructures.

“On the client side we have a new client coming out later in the year that will be a platform for building messaging applications on the desktop,” Hildebrand said. “You’ll be able to plug into whatever application you want to run and use this client as conduit for passing real time information back and forth.”

The EBS/Jabber deal comes at the same time a new survey from IDC and FaceTime found that, among enterprises that have not deployed IM, 90 percent of those companies cite barriers that can be resolved by existing industry solutions.

The IDC/FaceTime Survey found that 78 percent said the top reason for using IM was to facilitate quick business conversations in order to move on time-sensitive information. Collaboration among geographically disparate groups was cited by 44 percent of respondents as a top reason for using IM.

Robert Mahowald, research manager, CollaborativeComputing at IDC, said the question facing most companies is how to use IM most effectively in the workplace. He said that’s either by supporting consumer IM use with the help of solutions that address security and regulatory compliance implications, or by embracing IM products with sophisticated security and management tools that protect their networks, ensure regulatory compliance, and safeguard both corporate and personal data.

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