Tello extends presence to SIP

24 January, 2006

Presence has been gradually seeping out from IM over the past few years into other applications, notably in the XMPP/Jabber community where presence is a key (it’s the first ‘P’ in XMPP!). The benefits of using XMPP are mainly that it’s an open, documented and extensible standard which allows anyone to make use of it.

In an article called Say Tello for Presence Om Malik writes about a new VoIP focussed start-up called Tello, based in San Mateo, California. Doug Renert, a former executive at Oracle Corp heads up the start-up..

The company, The Wall Street Journal writes, is going to allow users to “workers see on their computers or mobile devices whether the person they are trying to reach is on an office phone or cellphone or is logged on to instant messaging.” [Read how it works over on Business Week.]

They do this by installing SIP proxy servers so that as well as picking up your IM presence they can detect your telephony presence. This is an interesting innovation, and one which, had I been paying attention to this market, would have been immediately obvious.

What’s more interesting is that this kind of thing could be provided by an XMPP-based application but probably isn’t. On the jdev mailing list we often hear about people implementing custom internal solutions utilising XMPP for backend communications and presence, but it’s much rarer that you’ll hear about large companies deploying commercial solutions based on XMPP or even startups. Of course, this could be for two reasons:

  1. I’m just not hearing about them
  2. Companies are reluctant to talk about the technologies they’re using, so there may be lots of XMPP commercial application but we don’t know about them

The latter is entirely possible, and in fact quite likely. The obvious recent exception is Google, whose Talk application not only uses XMPP but extends it in a well-documented way and provides example interop libraries.

The question though, is are there any others? Could Tello be using XMPP? Should this kind of solution already exist in XMPP so that, for example, I could start using it at home?

See other posts tagged with general and all posts made in January 2006.


Alan Johnston, CTO Tello
26 January, 2006 at 06:26


Thanks for your comments and questions about Tello. Since SIP/SIMPLE supports both telephony and presence, it is a logical thing to combine them as we have done at Tello. Tello actually uses both SIP/SIMPLE and XMPP in our service, and we plan to offer gateway services as part of our federation. We believe that presence will play a central role in business communications and processes in the future.

28 January, 2006 at 00:09

Hi Alan,

Thanks very much for this feedback. Tello’s itententions to offer gateway services are extremely interesting, as is your usage of XMPP.

Obviously had I found and earlier, I would have known this already, but your site is a little hard-going on the casual visitor’s eyes. Good content, but perhaps a little much of it in too small a font in places?

I agree and think that presence will clearly play a huge role in the day to day operations of not only business but in all social interactions.