First ever MQTT and XMPP dual-protocol server: ejabberd Business Edition

ProcessOne is proud to announce that ejabberd Business Edition now supports MQTT 5. This is a whole new protocol added – as an addition to XMPP (and SIP) – to our server. Our enterprise customers will be able to use both MQTT and XMPP in their real-time solutions.

ejabberd is the world’s leading XMPP server, both in performance and market share. With MQTT support, ejabberd brings equally incredible performance to this popular protocol, and true flexibility to real-time solutions.

What is MQTT?

MQTT stands for MQ Telemetry Transport. It is a publish/subscribe, extremely simple and lightweight messaging protocol, designed for constrained devices and low-bandwidth, high-latency or unreliable networks. The design principles are to minimise network bandwidth and device resource requirements while also attempting to ensure reliability and some degree of assurance of delivery.

These principles also turn out to make the protocol ideal for the emerging “machine-to-machine” (M2M) or “Internet of Things” world of connected devices, and for mobile applications where bandwidth and battery power are at a premium.

Why is it a big deal?

It is the first time that a single platform is able to support the major reference real-time standard protocols.

XMPP is an IETF standard for instant messaging communication. It is also used for Internet of Things in use cases where powerful devices need to be connected to the internet, especially with their own presence signal and control interface. XMPP offers more features than MQTT, but the extra flexibility and complexity comes at a cost. Some less powerful devices cannot leverage XMPP and need to resort to MQTT, which is designed with that small devices use cases in mind. MQTT is a standard from OASIS.

Supporting both standards opens a whole set of new use cases, making it possible to connect people, applications, small IoT devices and larger IoTs on the same platform.

Moreover, from the very beginning ejabberd Business Edition provides full support for the brand new MQTT 5, being ready to support the most advanced use cases offered by this protocol. It is one of the very first production-ready MQTT 5 servers, with compliance to the brand new specification released in May 2018.

MQTT and XMPP

Thanks to combined support of XMPP and MQTT, ejabberd Business Edition is the first truly multi-protocols real-time messaging servers. Your solutions can use the best of both worlds, and your implementations can be flexible and scalable at the same time.

By using a multi-protocol server, your deployment can benefit from the ecosystems of both protocols, and be compatible with vast number of standard tools and software.

Does it mean, we consider XMPP obsolete? Absolutely not. XMPP and MQTT are designed with different use cases in mind. However, we think that in many cases, a real-time project will need to leverage both XMPP and MQTT during its lifetime, making humans, things and application collaboration possible. This is our vision.

What are the main benefits?

ejabberd Business Edition has been much refined during recent years. ProcessOne has patiently engineered a server framework that is stable and highly available thanks to a fast and flexible clustering engine, and versatile thanks to its plugin API.

MQTT protocol in ejabberd Business Edition has been reimplemented from scratch, but the server infrastructure leverages the brand new modular architecture of eBE. It means it uses the same highly scalable clustering engine, the same authentication infrastructure, can provide virtual hosting, reuse the logging modules, and use the same API.

For the users, the benefits are clear: you can reuse the same server, infrastructure, authentication mechanism, security policy for your XMPP clients and MQTT clients. You can invest in a single platform and be sure to be future-proof and address both your current and future needs in term of real-time technologies.

You can have a part of your devices connected to XMPP and another part connected on MQTT, without the need to manage two separate platforms. And most of all, you can design your system for use cases mixing XMPP strong points (human collaboration, chat bots for automation) with MQTT (connection to millions of very lightweight devices).

The bottom line is simple:

  1. You can switch between XMPP and MQTT as you wish, even use both protocols on the same infrastructure.
  2. You will save on infrastructure, given the high-performance of the platform.
  3. You get support on solution design for real-time infrastructure and can get help choosing between XMPP and MQTT, from a vendor that has no interest in selling one protocol more than another.

How can I test it?

If you are a developer and would like to try connecting your client to our MQTT server, we got you covered.

ProcessOne has deployed a public MQTT broker with anonymous access. This is one of the first MQTT 5 public brokers available.

The broker is deployed at mqtt.fluux.io on port 1883 and 8883 (TLS).

You can, for example, test our broker with mosquitto client. On macOS, you can install mosquitto via Terminal using Homebrew with:

brew install mosquitto

From there, you can subscribe to the topic test/topic with:

mosquitto_sub -h mqtt.fluux.io -p 1883 -V mqttv311 -v -t "test/topic" -q 2

and then (in another Terminal tab or window) you can publish with:

mosquitto_pub -h mqtt.fluux.io -p 1883 -V mqttv311 -t "test/topic" -m "message" -q 2

You should see your message received and displayed below the mosquitto_sub command in your previous Terminal tab or window.

Note: In this example, Mosquitto client is using MQTT v3.1.1, as it doesn’t support version 5.0 at the moment of writing.

Don’t hesitate to send your feedback and findings through our contact page. Happy hacking!

What is next?

From our initial tests ejabberd Business Edition MQTT performance is very impressive, and we will be publishing our benchmarks soon.

Regarding MQTT 5, shared subscriptions are still being developed and will be available in a next release.

Regarding protocol version coverage, our platform supports MQTT 3.1.1 and we plan to add support for MQTT 3.1 as well in a future update.

Most of all, we are planning to increase the interoperability between MQTT and XMPP. The plan is to have both XMPP and MQTT clients be able to leverage the same services provided by ejabberd Business Edition: push notifications, groupchat through Muc/Sub, etc.

The goal is to leverage use cases based on real-time communication between humans, things, and applications. This can only be done by building an ambitious platform that is protocol agnostic and leverages the best of each technology.

We believe the IoT revolution will fuel the growth of both XMPP and MQTT protocols. For this to happen, the development community needs flexible, scalable and – most importantly – trusted tools. For more than 15 years ejabberd has been the best XMPP server. We now want it to be the best MQTT server as well.


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