Earlier today Microsoft made some interesting announcements around their Office Communications Server (OCS) product.
OCS and its predecessor Live Communication Server have always had the ability to communicate with some of the public instant messaging networks through MS’s Public IM Connectivity (PIC) service. This provided federation between your internal LCS or OCS system and the public Live Messenger, Yahoo and AOL networks. In exchange for a per user, per month subscription of course.
Half the good news in today’s announcing is that from October 1st a PIC license will no longer be required for federation with AOL. Combined with a similar announcement about Live Messenger back in June this means that only federation between a companies internal IM and Yahoo requires additional PIC licenses. Though I’m guessing with MS’s moves towards Yahoo this may not last long either. The good news is that the cost of the PIC licenses has been reduced accordingly.
Alongside this news MS has also announced a new XMPP gateway for OCS 2007 R2. This gateway will allow internal OCS users to add contacts from XMPP based IM systems, share presence with those contacts and hold 1-to-1 IM conversations.
So what’s XMPP? Well its the eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol. This is the protocol that is used by both Google Talk and Cisco’s Jabber, both of which have been tested by MS. In theory this now means that OCS can communicate with pretty much all the other major IM networks and systems (IBM provide a gateway between Sametime and OCS).
The XMPP gateway is fully supported by MS and a component of Office Communication Server 2007 R2 and is free to download. There’s a video on Channel9 that talks more about the gateway and the resulting architecture (embedded below). You can download the gateway from here: