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Openfire and MS Office Communicator

I’m looking for some ideas, some people who have “been there, done that” … I set up Openfire a couple years or so ago for a small number of users at my company. A couple of us had come from larger organizations and missed having IM … kept this pretty basic …Did not bother with LDAP integration … managed users manually (less than a dozen) … messed with IM gateway plugins … just to see how it worked . It’s been working just fine. Recently we were acquired by a much larger corp … one change … everybody goes to Exchange … fine…

Then I see that portions of the corp run Office Communicator and I’m intrigued … when I asked I was told it was too costly … not everybody had it … and that many in the division I’m in have started using AIM accounts to have access to each other (offices located from coast-to-coast). So I’m thinking … why not use Openfire? So thats what I’m asking you guys … some of you I’m assuming may have had the same questions … made the analysis … … care to share?

So … Why Openfire? Some questions & thoughts I had …

  1. in a multi-office environment … one OF server in each or pick one and everybody uses it?

  2. if multiple … can they communicate? hows that work?

  3. Running AD … Spark w/SSO & AD (LDAP) integration … a plus or a pain?

  4. Better clients than SPARK? …

  5. IM … open IM like AIM, MSN or Google … potentially a problem? Is there a security advantage using a “closed” (in that we use it just internal) IM?

Certainly would like to hear from people who have more experience than I do…

  1. I used a single server across 15+ offices in different states. Everyone connected to that one server.
  2. can be done but not easy or pretty
  3. LDAP with SSO makes life sooooo much easier after the initial headache of getting SSO to work.
  4. spark is a memory hog, but has many exclusive features with openfire which IMO make up for its RAM requirement. RAM is cheap.
  5. I limit gateways to those that really need it. Gateways expose your network to outside garbage like Yahoo’s endless porn chat spams.

Kevin, I discovered Spark after our OCS implemetation. Today I can tell you you that Spark works really fine even accross the network. The only difference I’ve noticed is that Spark doesn´t have a desktop sharing utility…but we use Aranda or netmeeting to do that. With spark you can even do calls…and the sound is pretty good. I think that we have been spending money with OCS having Spark (and Openfire of course). If you’re going to have many users it’s a good idea to use LDAP integration…remember that Openfire uses AD in read only mode. Lucky from Colombia.