With Microsoft in Sight, Cisco Buys Jabber

Cisco said this morning it would buy instant messaging service Jabber for an undisclosed amount. The deal is another move by the networking company into the collaboration space — this time highlighting the importance of presence awareness and interoperability in collaboration. It follows nicely with Cisco’s buy of PostPath earlier this month, as well as its WebEx acquisition. Cisco CEO John Chambers has been pretty vocal in its desire to go after three hot markets: collaboration, virtualization and video.

From Cisco’s press release:

“Enterprise organizations want an extensible presence and messaging platform that can integrate with business process applications and easily adapt to their changing needs,” said Doug Dennerline, Cisco senior vice president, Collaboration Software Group. “With the acquisition of Jabber, we will be able to extend the reach of our current instant messaging service and expand the capabilities of our collaboration platform. Our intention is to be the interoperability benchmark in the collaboration space.”

Jabber is based on Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP), the same protocol being used by several open-source IM implementations. Services like Twitter use XMPP. Jabber also operates with Google Talk, and with the AIM Gateway from Jabber, it can be used to communicate with AOL users. Jabber also communicates with users of Microsoft Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger.

Yesterday at GigaOM’s Mobilize event, Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior told the audience that the company believes collaboration to be a $34 billion business, and emphasized the move away from selling only networking gear. Services are a crucial part of the that strategy and a robust presence platform is one of the essential services in offering real-time collaboration that Warrior highlighted in her keynote. And for those keeping score in Microsoft/Cisco showdown, Jabber (which Om has called the platform of choice for voice-over-IM) is way more compelling that what I’ve seen demonstrated in Microsoft’s unified communications efforts through SharePoint.