Instant messaging vendor Jabber is setting its sights downstream with plans in coming months to launch new product aimed at SMB customers.
The new product, likely to debut in the next 60 days, will be an appliance built on Jabber's XCP (Extensible Communications Platform) IM software, targeting customers with fewer than 1,000 employees.
The as-of-yet unnamed appliance marks not only Jabber's first attempt at hardware but also its entrance into the SMB market, said Dan Forman, manager of business development at Jabber, Denver, Colo., during an interview at this week's XChange 2004 conference in Chicago.
Unlike public IM systems such as AOL and MSN, the appliance will bring secure instant messaging to SMB customers that can be tied in with back-end systems, Forman said.
"[With AOL and MSN] it's hard to tell what proprietary information is flowing out the door," Forman said. "I liken it to 'why not have e-mail hosted on Hotmail?'" he said.
To better meet SMB customers' needs, the appliance will feature similar functionality to Jabber's current software but will be easier to deploy, manage and maintain and offer less scalability, he said.
By introducing an appliance-based version of its IM product, Jabber is making the technology more accessible to both customers and partners, said Joseph Heinzen, president of distributor e-Convergence Solutions, Centreville, Va., Jabber's distribution partner.
"It's easier to obtain the technology and VARs are more comfortable with a product when there's not as much integration to do," Heinzen said.
As Jabber continues to develop the forthcoming product, it is also bolstering its partner ranks by recruiting new solution providers and is preparing a formal channel program, Forman said.
Currently, Jabber's customer base consists primarily of carriers and enterprises such as AT&T, Bell South, FedEx and Lehman Brothers.