When you and your clients need to communicate, there are traditional channels, such as email or even the telephone, but live text, voice, and video conferencing has been restricted to proprietary protocols, software, and services. If you are running a variant of Linux or BSD on your dedicated server, you probably rely heavily on free and open source software. It would be a shame to have to bring in proprietary software for communication.
Enter XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), an open protocol for real-time communication. With it you can create a secure, customized, and flexible communication network for internal or external use. XMPP was developed in the Jabber open source community. It is based on (Extensible Markup Language) XML, making it easy to learn and develop applications for it. Because XMPP is an open standard, like HTTP, anyone can use it, develop software based upon it, and share it with others.
XMPP is used in many commercial networks, including Google Talk and Facebook’s chat service. It supports encrypted transfer, voice over IP (VoIP), group messaging, and many other useful features. There are many pre-configured chat systems based on XMPP that you can use on your server to create your own internal business network or offer chat services to your customers.
You can find a list of server software options and supported clients (such as Pidgin, Adium, Google Talk, and many others) on the XMPP Standards Foundation website. For a comprehensive list of XMPP features and development potential, visit oreilly.com.