Military deployments make extensive use of text chat services, mostly for multi-user chat (MUC). A vast majority of new deployments use the XMPP (eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) standard but there are significant legacy text chat installations using IRC (Internet Relay Chat).
Communication between IRC and XMPP networks is often problematic. In the next major release of the Isode product set, R16, we’re introducing an IRC gateway into our M-Link XMPP Server product. We are doing this because we believe that existing gateways do not include functionality appropriate to our target markets.
Existing gateways allow individual XMPP users to connect into IRC channels (where they adopt a username derived from their XMPP JID). In this model the XMPP user is downgrading to IRC capabilities. The Isode gateway associates an XMPP MUC room with an IRC channel, giving a number of benefits over existing approaches:
- The involvement of IRC is totally transparent to the XMPP user. The user will see a normal MUC room which just happens to be connected to an IRC channel.
- Full MUC functionality is available locally, for example MUC access control and affiliation management.
- There is no downgrade of security for XMPP users with XMPP traffic. XMPP users are still authenticated and connections are protected with TLS.
- M-Link security label support is available, including translation to IRC users as FLOT (First Line of Text) labels in the IRC messages.
- The XMPP administrator has control of MUC room naming, which does not have to match IRC channel naming.
We’ve released two whitepapers today which talk about IRC, XMPP and the new capabilities in M-Link R16.
In [Interconnecting XMPP and IRC] we describe the operation of both XMPP and IRC and then look at the different approaches to gateways between these two services, comparing the existing approach with Isode’s solution.
In [Deploying IRC, Federated MUC and XMPP Guards] we look at how IRC would operate with a Federated Multi-User Chat (FMUC) deployment. FMUC is a new standard, more information here. The paper also looks at how the solution would work in a cross-domain environment using XMPP Guards.
R16 is currently in late beta and will be released in June 2013.