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Mobile Unified Communication

Instant Messaging and Presence Management via Mobile Phone, Smart Phone and Tablet PC

Author: Sibylle Klein | serVonic GmbH | Public Relations

E-mails, Faxes, Short Messages, Voice Mails, Mobile Access, CTI, Instant Messaging, Presence Management – these are key features in Unified Communications. All functions should be available for users at their workstation PC as well as with their smart phones, mobile phones or Tablet PCs.
On the one hand, there are time-asynchronous UC features like messages –users can access these message types via internet or mobile phone. On the other hand, there are real-time services like instant messaging or presence management: accessing these services via mobile phone, smart phone or tablet PC could keep the employee up-to-date at any time and any place.

Example: The serVonic IXI-PCS partner bar shows information about phone status and presence and offers telephony options as well as instant messaging. Screenshot: serVonic GmbH

Instant Messaging and Presence Information

The UC function „Instant Messaging“ enables partners to send each other short text messages in real-time. The technique for the transmission is the so-called “Push” mode, so that the recipient receives the message without delay. To be able to use Instant Messaging, users need a client to communicate via a server. When a company implements Instant Messaging, the clients are connected via the company network. The UC function „Presence“ enables participants at their workstation to see, who of the colleagues is online and available, absent, away, in a meeting or does not want to be disturbed. Also for this service, a client is necessary to connect the users via a server. A client for IM and presence could be for example a so-called partner monitor or a partner bar or a dedicated IM and presence client. 

Thanks to the XMPP support of serVonic’s IXI-PCS CTI solution, features like presence information and instant messaging are also available for samrtphones. Image: serVonic GmbH

IM and Presence away from the office

To enable the user on the way to take advantage of Instant Messaging and Presence, manufacturers of IM and presence solutions offer mobile access to the corresponding client via smart phone, mobile phone or tablet PC. There are various concepts for these solutions, but they generally require appropriate clients on the mobile device or workstation PC. They communicate via server: The user gets the messages buffered by the server and can see the information stored at the server. When for example one user in the office sends an instant message to a colleague on the way, this message is stored at the server. If the colleague on the way is logged in at the server as „online“, the message is transferred. If the user is “offline” and not logged in at the server, the message is stored and transferred as soon as the user logs in.

Based on the standard XMPP the workstation client and the mobile client are connected via server. Image: serVonic GmbH

Standards – SIP/SIMPLE or XMPP

IM and Presence Clients of mobile users and users at the workstation communicate via server based on protocols. Manufacturers have two options to implement this communication: the proprietary way or based on standards.
Whereas some manufacturers focus on proprietary solutions, companies are likely to go the better way to decide for a standard-based solution to not depend on one single manufacturer.
In the field of „Communication between IM and Presence Client with mobile phone, smart phone or Tablet PC on the one hand and IM and Presence Client at the workstation PC “ there are two main standard protocols: SIP/SIMPLE and XMPP. The SIP means Session Initiation Protocol and has been developed by IETF – Internet Engineering Task Force – as standard for a signaling protocol to establish, modify and terminate sessions between two or more participants. This standard was enhanced with „SIMPLE“: SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions. SIMPLE amends the original protocol by Presence and Instant Messaging. XMPP, also known as „Jabber” protocol, means Extensible Messaging und Presence Protocol und is an Internet Standard for XML Routing released as RFC by IETF. XMPP was especially designed for the - cross-manufacturer and cross-operating systems – connection between different IM and Presence Clients. XMPP can explicitly be extended. Various XMPP Servers und Clients can be easily connected. If a company already uses an XMPP Server, XMPP Clients of other manufacturers can be connected to the Server.

The Realization

After deciding for a solution based on the standard XMPP, a company has to install an XMPP server in the central headquarter and equip the corresponding workstation PCs with an XMPP Client. After that the company has to implement a general access for mobile devices in the company’s network e.g. via VPN – Virtual Private Network. The mobile devices need a permanent internet connection on the one hand and an appropriate XMPP Client for the operating system. This Client is available for download in the corresponding online store. Then the mobile user has to configure the XMPP Server data like host name, IP address and login data. When using the XMPP Client for the first time, the Roster is loaded, the list of all colleagues, who also have an XMPP Client and are authorized by the administrator for this user. The mobile user selects those, who should appear at the mobile device in his „Partner Monitor“. Selected persons have to confirm – following the so-called Opt-in-process. After this process, the mobile user can send instant messages to these persons, show his presence status and see the availability of the others.   [more]

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Commentary of the Expert

by Jochen Klein, CEO of serVonic

Since 1984, we are acting in the field of communication now as one of the first and leading supplier of Unified Communication solutions. From the beginning we aimed our solutions to support important existing standards.
Therefore our products can be implemented flexibly and aour customers are independent of proprietary interfaces and protocols of individual manufacturers.
The latest station of development is the IXI-PCS Professional Call Server.
This is a Client/Server solution for CTI, Instant Messaging and Presence Management  supporting Windows Clients, Linux Desktop a Mac OS Clients. Our key principles for all our development is apply accordingly to IXI-PCS: Our CTI Server is best-possibly based on Standards for example CLI. CLI means Common Language Infrastructure and has enabled us to implement IXI-PCS flexibly into environments like Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Suse and Ubuntu. Moreover this standard keeps our product easily adjustable to further platforms.
In the field of Presence and Instant Messaging we had to choose between two standards: SIP/SIMPLE and XMPP.
According to our philosophy „Complex Requirements do not have to lead to complicated solutions “ we decided in favor of  XMPP. XMPP was designed from the beginning by IETF as RFC  Standard especially for Instant Messaging and Presence, whereas SIMPLE is an amendment to an existing SIP Standard. SIP was originally intended for something completely different. If you realize Instant Messaging and Presence based on SIMPLE, you always have to figuratively lug the dead weight SIP. Moreover, XMPP is more simple and straight in the implementation and explicitly extendable. Therefore modules for encryption, audio and video transmission or proprietary development for the XMPP client can be added.
However, we turn our not only to the current advantages, but also the future prospects which are better for XMPP. XMPP offers a simple Server–Server interface which might be used in the future for connecting several company locations. It could also be the base for implementing external services, so that Instant Messaging and Presence are not only accessible in one company but also in the public network. In our opinion XMPP is likely to displace SIP/SIMPLE in the market:  Other well-known manufacturers like Google Talk or Cisco also utilize XMPP, and Microsoft has opened Lync for the standard XMPP. [more]