Messaging Pipeline | Setting A Course Toward Instant Messaging Federation
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January 03, 2006

Setting A Course Toward Instant Messaging Federation

Messaging Pipeline

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Research house recently reported that about 1 billion instant messages are sent every day between 28 million enterprise users. In the business world, money is now seriously being spent on enterprise instant messaging for the first time, as enterprises begin efforts to discourage internal use of consumer services on their networks in favor of tightly controlled, "behind-the-firewall" systems. As a result, enterprises are looking to deploy systems that enable cohesive and authorized corporate communications, while avoiding consumer IM services for presence and real-time messaging traffic.

The main issue to address, once such systems are in place, is that of external communication links between them. A clear priority will be given by businesses to the creation of ecosystems that will allow secure, cohesive and scalable real-time collaboration between the enterprise, its customers and its suppliers, as well as with other players within the same industry vertical.

Enter Federation

Federation is the key enabler of those extended IM networks. It is essential because it allows participants to expose presence details, and exchange information in real-time to enhance their business.

Federation is a term used in the IM industry to describe the ability for IM servers to communicate in a distributed network using trusted relationships, and without requiring users to establish separate credentials on each system to which they wish to communicate. Federation delivers the ability for users on one system at one company, for example, to exchange IM with contacts on another system installed in a separate enterprise – without requiring each user to establish a password and maintain an account on each other’s system.

Federation, or "server-to-server connectivity", is widely considered a pre-requisite for the significant adoption of interoperable IM systems. Federation is what users expect based on similar experience with e-mail – no knowledge of the foreign systems is required, just a valid address of the recipient.

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