Monday, December 29, 2008

The Presence of 2008

The year is ending and with it come the old year review and the new year's resolutions. I love these times.. you get to just sit and think on what happened and what the future holds..

I'm sitting and writing this post, while watching twitter popups via my favorite desktop client (Twhirl). I'm doing that because there's a mini war going on in south Israel right now, and this is where I grew up, where my parents still live actually. As I'm writing this, they announce the area a closed military environment.

Twitter is a big hit. In Israel, my friend Niv Calderon suspects there are around 1000 users in Israel there's no way of really knowing, but the last few days will probably bring more people in: most of the breaking news are coming from this presence server. True, there's a lot of extra information, chats, PR, but there are also many updates much faster than even the fastest news sites (I'm not talking about the TV).

Which brings me back to the resolutions thing. Presence is here to stay, and it was proven in the Obama campaign (that is very poorly replicated in Israel now). The economic crises will be the final step that is needed: people will learn how to make money of it, I'm sure. I have a few ideas of my own that I wrote about in my Hebrew blog, and I will post more about it later here. I know less and less people that are avoiding using and publishing their presence on line - even people that left Facebook in the past for privacy reasons are now coming back - you can't avoid it - it's affecting our lives too much and you just miss out if you're not there. The move is almost complete - digital presence is almost equal, or least a huge part, for physical presence.

In the field of XMPP vs. SIP, the question is harder. Tsahi Levent-Levi writes about it in SIMPLE vs. XMPP Showdown and reaches the same conclusion I did at the beginning of 2008: "We will end up with two different presence protocols - one dominant with Internet companies (XMPP) and the other by service providers and unified communication vendors (SIMPLE).".  Today I feel differently: In the field of presence and IM (and event related implementations) XMPP will win. It will not happen in 2009, companies have invested too much in SIP, and it will not happen in legacy systems, MMS, VOIP. It will happen where XMPP shines as a simple (pun intended), standard, easy to use (very important!) protocol - that instead of getting extended more and more - is using other standards when possible (for example, OAuth for authentication). And I'll explain why:

Simple - XMPP is XML based. This brings with it some good and some bad news. The point I'm making here is that those news are KNOWN. Some have solutions (offloading XML processing for better performance, for example) and some don't, but the field is very wide and keeps getting better (since there are many people looking to improve it). By doing it's not only much easier to learn XMPP, it will improve faster too.

Standard - SIP is standard, but it's the bad type of standard: It's a standard made by the SIP community for the SIP community. The XMPP standard uses other known standards and re-uses them in a way that suits the needs.

Easy to use - I also refer to as 'easy to learn' - what is easy to learn and use will become more popular, period.

Another point on XMPP as wining the Internet and the SIP wining the mobile/cellular - the Internet will eventually win the mobile, if it hadn't already. What does that tell you about the protocol that won the Internet?

Happy new year and world peace!


Tsahi Levent-Levi said...

The comparison you are making reminds me of early comparisons between H.323 and SIP. They were SIP-oriented, and they were false...
SIMPLE over SIP is also employing XML. SIP also uses other protocols whenever it can (think TLS for authentication and security). SIP was also said to be simple when compared to SIP, and frankly - both are complex (and so will XMPP be 2-3 years from now).
To top it all, SIP, SIMPLE and XMPP are ALL standards done by a single organization - the IETF.
That said, you are correct in your assessment that both standards are here to stay.


Liorsion said...


SIP uses XML, on the surface that's true, but only on the surface, because it also uses special headers and extras that are mandatory to the understanding and usage of SIP. Seems trivial, but it's not - it means an XML programmer (for example, a person that comes from Javascript background and wants to write a client) doesn't know right away how to interpret, use, and understand it. 90% of the programmers would leave at this point.

SIP uses some parts of other IETF standards, but not always. It's true for TLS, but that's easy cause it's a lower level (XMPP also uses TLS).

XMPP is a recent join to IETF, and most of the work is actually NOT done there - and if you've been to the real workgroups of XMPP you know how much faster and easier it goes.

You can obviously say that that's not a big deal, XMPP is young and SIP is old and XMPP would get there eventually.. true, that's possible, it's also possible that it won't.