Tuesday, April 7, 2009

OpenFire - GPL, Private 'Chat' server

There are lots of chat services out there so when thinking about utilizing chat one has to start by asking, why want or need to have one's own?  Chat has been around for a long time, and along with it are the eternal questions of privacy, security, etc.  Those questions are very motivating reasons to operate a chat / collaboration system internally.  Large and or geographically spread out organization can realize significant benefits by having chat / presence features available to users, while maintaining a secure (and compliant) environment.

While looking around I ran across OpenFire at igniterealtime.org.  Openfire is a XMPP(jabber) based, cross platform solution.  A few of the notable highlights: Simple administration, support for secure communications, logging, cluster options, multiple authentication options: internal, ldap, AD, and connectors to external chat systems.

Two of my favorite plugins are Fastpath and Fastpath web.  Fastpath allows for setting up chat queues - think of it like call centers for chat.  A "Workgroup" and list of user(s) is setup that service incoming chats in a round robin fashion.  Fastpath Web extends this outside of the chat client application and provides the mechanism where placing 2 lines of html code on a website allows for clientless chat - ie "Click Here for Live Support".  Fastpat Web is designed to be distributed - it can be installed across multiple (java)application servers to ensure redundancy and a balanced load if desired.

My hats off to igniterealtime/jive software.  Installation was simple(rpm, deb, msi, tgz,dmg) and configuration is handled through a well designed web tool.  We'll be investigating exactly how Openfire may be used at my employer.  Any other Openfire users out there with stories to share?

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1 comment:

steve said...

We use OpenFire, and it's OK but for one problem: The connection with the server seems to drop and re-connect frequently if you use a different client than "spark" that the openfire people also distribute.

Otherwise it's great -- integrates with AD, nice group chat features, easy to lock down & monitor, etc.