Cisco's unified communications app, Jabber, releases this year across devices, favoring Apple and Android. Windows? Not so much.
Eye on Microsoft
By Shane O'Neill, CIO
Earlier this month, Cisco announced that it is harnessing some of its teleconferencing features and social networking tools from its Quad platform into Cisco Jabber, a UC (unified communications) app that includes instant messaging, voice, video, conferencing and desktop sharing.
Cisco hopes to set Jabber apart from the multitude of communication tools — from Salesforce.com’s Chatter to Microsoft Lync to IBM Lotus Sametime — by making the app available across a broad swath of devices including Macs, PCs, tablets and smartphones.
As more and more workers go mobile, Cisco is positioning Jabber to be the UC tool for the enterprise and mid-market that works on every platform and device.
With that said, Jabber, which Cisco says will work on-premise or in a cloud environment, does have a rather complicated release schedule.
“Jabber for Mac” will release first for the Mac OS in the first half of 2011. In the second half of the year, Jabber will be available for the iPhone and iPad, as well as Android and BlackBerry platforms. Even Nokia/Symbian, which is a non-player in the U.S., is still popular enough globally for Cisco to include it in the Jabber family.
The Jabber launch on all platforms will include IM and presence, voice, visual voicemail and desktop sharing and conferencing. However, the video portion of Jabber will not be available on any platforms until the fourth quarter of 2011.
For IM unity, Jabber is built on the XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) to allow the app to run on all the major IM platforms from Google, IBM, Microsoft and AOL. Jabber can also be accessed from within Office applications such as Outlook and SharePoint.
As for Windows client OS and Windows Phone 7, Cisco has no current plans for Jabber on Windows Phone 7. It will be releasing a Jabber for Windows, but Cisco is not giving a release date at this time — a curious decision considering Windows runs on 90 percent of PCs.
But the company justifies the Windows delay by saying it already has UC Windows clients for both on-premise deployment (Unified Personal Communicator) and the cloud (WebEx Connect). These tools use the same infrastructure as Jabber so Windows users will still be able to communicate with Jabber users on other platforms. But for the time being, Cisco’s Windows UC offerings will not have the Jabber name or a single UI across devices.
“We don’t view Jabber for Windows as ‘delayed’ given we have the other Windows UC-based clients,” says a Cisco spokesperson. “It’s more of a development timetable resource decision. Mac apps are in very high demand right now, as are tablets and smartphones. So Windows is coming, but a little after other platforms.”
Regardless of the platform, Cisco is hoping Jabber will be its top tool for the “consumerization of IT.” Here is a rundown of Jabber features that should put Microsoft, IBM and other enterprise UC vendors on alert.
Jabber provides Voice-over-WiFi calling capabilities to reduce mobile calling and roaming charges, and lets users to roam from 3G and 4G networks to Wi-Fi networks without dropping calls.
Jabber tools can be accessed from Microsoft Office apps, including Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint, to streamline tasks and save time by letting users see a contact’s availability and communicate with them from the application.
Jabber will deliver HD video, even on devices with dual-core chips. It will also use H.264, the de facto standard for HD video, so that Jabber users can join telepresence video conferences or person-to-person video calls with other H.264 video endpoints.
Microsoft Lync, on the other hand, only supports proprietary video protocols. To get Lync to interoperate with H.264 standards-based video endpoints, a third-party gateway is required, which can decrease quality and increase costs.
Jabber will utilize Cisco’s networking and bandwidth management tools for clear and reliable call quality.