By eweek  |  Posted 2005-10-10 Print this article Print

Despite its limited feature set, we liked the way Jabber has packaged enterprise IM in an easy-to-deploy appliance. JabberNow does have some quirks—the most obvious of which is its toaster shape—but it provides good flexibility for companies that want to extend XMPP-based IM to a remote office or need to provide IM capabilities in SMBs (small and midsize businesses).

The small box will support 500 users with the Web client and 1,000 users with the Jabber Messenger client, and at $40 per user for a base configuration, JabberNow provides a good bundle of hardware and software. Although pricing hasnt been finalized for the add-ons, it could get steep depending on what capabilities companies want to add. For example, Jabbers AOL Instant Messenger Gateway for the Jabber XCP server costs $25 per user. A similar price for the JabberNow appliance is entirely possible.

Click here to read how federation, persistent chat are opening up IM. Users of Mac OS-, Linux- and Unix-based clients will welcome the appliances bundling of an Adobe Systems Inc. Flash-based Web interface. We liked the overall look and feel of the client, which allows users to participate in group conferences, but it doesnt provide full feature parity with Jabber Messenger. For example, we could not dock windows together, and the alerting feature for incoming messages isnt as sophisticated.

Still, we found the client a useful tool given that many third-party clients dont fully support multiparty chat to begin with. The only way to launch the client is via the browser, so users may not use it as heavily as they would with a dedicated client that launches when they log on to their systems. The JabberNow unit that we received didnt include the Jabber Messenger client, but, according to company officials, the appliance will begin shipping with Messenger client code in the near future.

JabberNows fairly bare-bones management interface is acceptable because administrators need only worry about managing licenses, users and the add-ons. The appliance automatically e-mails a link to the Web client to add new users. We could also view the number of users, IP address and number of rooms on an LCD panel on the front of the box.

This simplicity has some shortcomings, however. For example, without directory integration, we could manage users only individually and not by groups. In addition, although the appliance includes a basic backup utility that saves the system state and user conversations on a daily and weekly basis in a compressed file, it doesnt have a way to send that backup to another system—although it can be grabbed using a script.

We liked that we could reboot and reset the system via the administration console, but there isnt a way to safely reboot the system when physically at the appliance. We could only reset it or turn it off and on manually.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.


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