Multiprotocol World

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-08-09 Print this article Print

To Stowe Boyd, president of market researcher and Weblog publisher Corante, the IM market is far from embracing a common protocol since providers have only just begun to figure out how to make money from connecting with one another. "Its an acknowledgement that we live in a multiprotocol world," Boyd said. "And Jabber Inc., as opposed to the open-source group, cant win by continuously proclaiming that XMPP is better because most people dont care a hoot about protocols, but they care about whether IM helps them do what they want to do." In many ways, the IM industry is in a position similar to e-mail before wide adoption of standard protocols, analysts and vendors said. The closed networks such as MCI Mail and CompuServe gave way to gateways among networks before the exchange of messages opened up completely through standards.
"If you look historically at how e-mail evolved, you had individual deals and then at some point that was not satisfying people," said Sara Radicati, president and CEO of The Radicati Group Inc., a research firm in Palo Alto, Calif.
Radicati said she considers Microsofts move a short-term approach to gain early interconnections among IM networks, but she said a widely adopted standard will be necessary in the longer term. Click here to read more about enterprise reaction to Microsofts LCS 2005 plans. The federation between LCS 2005 and the three IM networks will focus on one-to-one messaging and presence information but wont allow more advanced features such as multiparty chat sessions, which a common protocol could enable, Radicati said. "People will start to want full, protocol-level interoperability," she said. At the same time, the number of major enterprise IM platform vendors is narrowing after Yahoo and AOL conceded the space to software companies, Boyd said. In June, Yahoo stopped offering its separate enterprise IM service, called Yahoo Business Messenger, while AOL dropped its AIM Enterprise Gateway product. Both companies instead have been touting their partnerships with IM gateway server vendors such as IMlogic Inc., FaceTime Communications Inc. and Akonix Systems Inc., which add monitoring and management tools to the public networks. Click here to read about how the retreat of AOL and Yahoo could open doors for others. Their decision to leave the enterprise market signaled a shift in focus for the large IM networks and helped set up a scenario for greater cooperation with enterprise software companies such as Microsoft, Boyd said. "The business issue was formerly strategic, and that was because they wanted control of their brand and their market in enterprise space," Boyd said. "But now theyve rethought it. … Now, theyre thinking tactically." Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging & Collaboration Center at for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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