The Dustbin?

2001-11-21

Lots of ferment going on in the blog world regarding open-source software, with Doc Searls, Dave Winer, and Eric Norlin (among many others, I'm sure) weighing in. I've been thinking quite a bit about open source as well, of late, mostly in relation to Jabber, naturally. I may even post a longer essay on the topic tonight.

To the point, Eric Norlin worries:

Is Jabber going to end up in the dustbin of "independent commercial developers"?? I guess I'm just really wondering how they're gonna jump the massive chasm that lies in front of them. (oh btw, answers to questions like this are *how* you get small consulting shops like mine to push stuff like Jabber...ie, we don't wanna install it on 30 client systems if we think it won't be here in a year.)

Not to worry, Eric -- Jabber will be there. Why? Because Jabber is not an independent commercial developer. Rather, Jabber is an open protocol for instant messaging and (more technically) for routing XML between any two points on a network. There happens to be at least one commercial implementation of Jabber (created by Jabber, Inc.), but there is also at least one open-source implementation (created by the team at jabber.org before commercializing this technology was a glimmer in some entrepreneur's eye) -- and the open-source implementation meets the needs of most of the market for an open, interoperable IM product/service. Ergo: you can install it on 30 client systems and know that it will be here in a year. Makes you sleep well at night, doesn't it? :-)

Furthermore, CNET says the open-source approach fades in tough times. More food for thought on open source. I've long thought that the Sendmail and Covalent model (mentioned in the article) is a great one for Jabber, Inc. to follow: grow the adoption of open-source implementations while selling proprietary technologies that interoperate with open standards to companies with deep pockets. Happily, it seems to be working for my employer, too. Jabber, Inc. is the only company that can do this in the IM market because Jabber is the only IM technology built on an open standard, much as Sendmail is built on SMTP and Apache is built on HTTP and HTML. There's a lot we need to do in the Jabber world to encourage adoption of the Jabber protocol, though -- that's something on which Jabber, Inc., the Jabber Software Foundation, and major adoptees of Jabber technology will be working hard over the next year or two.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal