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Free Cisco Jabber: Where's the Federation?
The buzz this week comes from a CRN Article and a Cisco Blog Post. Cisco is offering free Jabber clients for ONLY presence and instant messaging (IM) for enterprises who have purchased and installed the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM). In the blog post, Barry O'Sullivan writes:
"We feel presence and IM are the starting points of collaboration, not the final destination.
"Consequently, once licensed for additional workloads, customers can use Jabber to move beyond IM to more advanced collaboration capabilities that can transform their business--such as enabling employees to easily engage in a TelePresence meeting from their mobile devices."
Hey, that's really a good marketing ploy--once you own a Cisco Unified Communication Manager, you can put the new Cisco IM and Presence client on as many desktop PCs (Windows or Mac) as you wish, as well as having the client on tablets and mobile devices.
But the offer is really not in synch with market realities nor with the major claim Cisco made when they purchased Jabber, that Jabber is based on the XMPP standard and can easily interoperate with other presence and IM products.
The reality is that most large enterprises are already using (and are even more likely to be licensed for) enterprise-class instant messaging, which has been sold since 1998 as part of IBM Lotus Sametime and since 2001 as part of Microsoft Exchange IM (and then as an element of Microsoft Office Communication Server and now as Microsoft Lync). And that is not just on desktop and laptop PCs; even back in 2008, over 65% of surveyed companies reported using mobile instant messaging. Other companies such as Google, Jive, Salesforce.com, and Skype are also already competing in this market.
Further, many of these enterprise-class IM systems already provide for "additional workloads" such as Cisco offers to license on the CUCM system. Entry-level licenses for IBM Sametime and Microsoft Lync already include peer-to-peer click-to-call via voice or video as well as desktop sharing and file transfer. Sure, there is additional licensing for conferencing and for enterprise telephony, but tens of millions of business users are already communicating and collaborating from their IM clients right now.
So, the big question seems to be, "When a Cisco CUCM system is installed in an enterprise, why not just federate Cisco Unified Presence Server (CUPS) and Jabber with the existing IM products using XMPP?" The federation functions are already included in the Cisco CUPS server. In that way, those users who have the full suite of Cisco CUCM functions for voice, video, web sharing (likely via WebEx), conferencing and mobility would be visible and accessible for all of the other existing PC, tablet and smartphone users who are already equipped with presence, IM, and click-to-communicate.
The secondary question seems to be, "In today's market , why would a company deploy a UC client that only has presence and IM?"
Sure, this is a challenge for any vendor delivering new UC systems, especially when the new UC system may only serve a portion of the employees (a new site or a single division in a large enterprise). However, seamless interoperation seems to be the best approach, rather than proposing enterprise-wide deployment of a limited-function client to all the desktops, likely in parallel with an existing IM solution.
The Cisco resellers seem excited about this, according to CRN. Hopefully, that excitement can be channeled into a discussion with the customer about the best way to federate the Cisco offers into the enterprise customer's business, so that the reseller can deliver "communications integrated to optimize business processes."