[Operators] Google Talk - enable or not?

Dave Cridland dave at cridland.net
Sat Jun 15 07:34:46 UTC 2013

On Sat, Jun 15, 2013 at 3:00 AM, Jesse Thompson <
jesse.thompson at doit.wisc.edu> wrote:

> I'm looking for guidance.
Aren't we all?

> Now that Google is transitioning to Hangouts, they're no longer supporting
> XMPP federation.
Well. In principle. But it seems there's *some* federation, but it's

> If we enable Talk/Hangouts for our domains, then in the future, if Google
> has a change of heart regarding their commitment to open federation
> standards, and they enable XMPP federation for Hangouts, then it will cause
> a huge problem for us because there will be two federated XMPP services
> hosting the same set of users.
Yes, you'd need to host them on different domains (a huge hassle), or
migrate one to the other (equally huge hassle).

> So, should we assume that Google will or will not enable XMPP federation
> for Google Hangouts ever in the future?
I don't think either assumption is safe.

> If we assume that they've permanently abandoned XMPP federation, then we
> should enable Google Talk/Hangouts.  Correct?
Well. Maybe.

> If we assume that they *might* someday enable XMPP federation, then we
> should *never* enable Google Talk/Hangouts for our domains in Google Apps.
>  Correct?

This seems safe.

The situation is roughly that Google have dropped federation of at least
some services running over XMPP. For some reason, they'd rather not explain
what. I think it takes the excitement out of trying to run interoperable
services, or something. And besides which, we're all spammers, right?

Some bizarre examples are that I can see my phone and tablet (both running
Hangouts on a Google Apps domain) online, as a resource beginning
Messaging, but messages sent there are dropped. On the other hand, the Mail
widget (resource beginning gmail) does receive messages (whether bare or
full jid), and can even reply.

This is, of course, silly and broken.

But what alarms me is that this probably has implications for your XMPP
deployment choices - if you enable Talk and Hangouts for your Google Apps
domain, you're likely to end up partially federating, and I'm willing to
bet that some activity which currently goes to your XMPP service will end
up trapped by your Hangouts service. It's not clear what the scope of the
misdirected activity would be, but it may well be enough to confuse remote
contacts horribly (especially if they're unaware of whether they're using a
Google Apps domain or not).

The net result is that I'm thinking the only safe option currently - and
this may change - is to avoid enabling Hangouts if you want to continue
hosting your own XMPP service.

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