Cisco's Jabber Communications App Spans Platforms, Devices

Cisco is unveiling its Jabber application, which essentially will enable business users to communicate with others via whatever method they choose, and whatever device or platform they want.

Cisco Systems officials say they have found a way to unite the myriad ways, devices and platforms people use to communicate in business.

At the Enterprise Connect 2011 show in Orlando, Fla., March 1, Cisco officials unveiled Jabber, a UC (unified communications) application that links such communications avenues as instant messaging, voice, video, conferencing and desktop sharing, and doing so across a range of devices, including Macs, PCs, smartphones and tablets.

The Jabber application, which will first roll out to Mac users in the second quarter, can work on-premise or in a cloud computing environment, and will integrate with such collaboration and productivity tools as Microsoft's Office applications and Cisco's Unified IP Phones, WebEx MeetingCenter and TelePresence endpoints.

Such flexibility and platform support is crucial in a world where a larger number of workers are going mobile, and where they have an increasingly wide range of devices and platforms to choose from, according to Laurent Philonenko, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Unified Communications business unit. Cisco's Jabber is a way to bring all these disparate communications modes and platforms together to fuel collaboration.

"It's very important [to support] multiple platforms, whether it be PCs or tablets or smartphones," Philonenko said in an interview with eWEEK. "The world is going mobile in different ways."

Jabber-Cisco acquired the technology with its 2008 acquisition of Jabber Inc.-also is a key step in Cisco's efforts to support any form of enterprise communications on any platform, he said. It supports or will support Macs and Windows-based PCs, tablets such as Apple's iPad, Samsung's Galaxy Tab or its own Cius tablets, and smartphone platforms such as Apple's iPhone, Research In Motion's BlackBerry family, Nokia and devices running Google's Android operating system.

The application is designed to let business employees quickly and securely find the right person they want to contact, determine where they are and on what type of device they can be contacted, and then to collaborate through whatever method-IM, video conferencing, chat, voice, etc.-and device they desire.

Jabber For Mac will offer presence and IM, voice, visual voicemail, desktop sharing and conferencing, with video coming in the quarter, according to Cisco. Jabber For Nokia builds on existing features, including offering a single client for on-premise or cloud software, and Jabber For Android offer voice-over-WiFi, single-number capabilities and mid-call controls.

Cisco also is offering a WebEx Meeting Center for Android devices, which will enable WebEx meetings on the smartphones.

In addition, Jabber is based on the XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), which will enable the application to run on multiple IM applications, including those from Google, IBM, Microsoft and AOL.

Overall, Jabber will extend Cisco's coverage of devices and platforms, Philonenko said. In the first half of 2011, Cisco will bring presence and IM capabilities to the iPad and BlackBerry and Nokia smartphones, while the second half of the year will bring video to Macs, presence and IM to the iPhone and Android-based smartphones, visual voice messages to the Cius tablet and Android devices.

Philonenko said Cisco officials have been vocal about extending their communicatons capabilities across a wide range of devices and platforms. Jabber proves that "we've been true to that promise," he said.