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VMware Simplifies Journey to the Cloud with Zimbra 8.0

31 Jul 2012

Organizations are turning to the cloud - both public and private - ever more frequently for UCC solutions. In support of this demand VMware recently announced Zimbra Collaboration Server (ZCS) 8, making ZCS 8 Beta available for download to organizations worldwide. For ZCS 8, UCC integration was the #1 feature customers requested. Leveraging VMware's focus on offering extensibility options and choices that are best for individual companies, this requirement was met with both out-of-the-box integration provided for both Cisco and Mitel and with support for other UCC solutions through an open API as well as through the Zimbra SDK. For example, Siemens added integration with Zimbra to its OpenScape Office V3 Release 3 announced in June. Overall, this UCC integration flexibility permits IT administrators to mix Zimbra with the UCC solution that best fits their specific needs.

What is Zimbra 8?

VMware Zimbra is a complete email, address book, calendar and tasks solution that can be accessed from the Zimbra web client, the Zimbra desktop offline client, Outlook, and a variety of other standards-based email clients and mobile devices. Zimbra enables users to connect to their personal cloud and sync across multiple devices with a "smart" mailbox that handles their activity streams from email, voice and social networks. Zimbra also supports self-service administration, leading to reduced IT administration and support overhead and increased end-user satisfaction.

Key Features of Zimbra 8 Include

Support for UC, with out-of-the-box integration for Cisco and Mitel

  • Click-to-Call any phone number with call routing to device or softphone

  • Visual Voicemail with inline playback, management, and message waiting indicator (MWI) status update

  • Presence indication and launch of Click-to-Chat with Cisco Jabber integration

  • WebEx integration to schedule and launch Cisco WebEx sessions directly from Zimbra

  • Call history with placed, received and missed calls visible within Zimbra.

Extensibility with Zimlets for Adding Additional Features

Zimlets enable the mashup of Web 2.0 technologies with enterprise messaging (e.g. email, IM, voice) and collaboration systems. ZCS ships with 10 pre-configured Zimlets. Using these reference Zimlets and available APIs, message content and collaboration objects can be made live by dynamically linking to web content and third-party services. For example, Zimlets can be designed to call third-party data sources (WebEx) or internal back office systems (CRM). Administrators configure which Zimlets are available to users and they can further refine their usage preference within the deployed set.

Updated Browser-based User Interface

Zimbra 8 sports a redesigned browser-based interface with a consistent user experience on all major platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux) - online through a web browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Chrome) and offline with Zimbra Desktop - thereby increasing end-user satisfaction and reducing support costs and user training needs. The Web client is available in Advanced and Standard versions. The Advanced version is an Ajax-based (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) client that provides a rich and consistent user experience. The Standard version is an HTML-based alternative for older browsers or slower Internet connections. Features include:

  • Ability to send and receive authenticated and encrypted email messages

  • Document management - check in/out, instant sharing of documents, folders, and tasks

  • Enterprise calendars with shared free and busy times; interoperable with Microsoft Exchange

  • Calendar wizard finds optimal group meeting times and is interoperable with Microsoft Exchange 2007/2010

  • Ability to transform Zimbra into a customized "collaboration hub" by integrating external applications and web services - such as Facebook, Twitter, Socialcast and enterprise applications including Oracle and SAP

Support for Other Desktop Email Clients

The Zimbra Connector for Outlook (ZCO) supports Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) synchronization to Outlook 2003/2007/2010 with full delegate, offline access and support for S/MIME. Email clients such as Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird and Eudora can be used with all Zimbra Servers to access email (via POP or IMAP). Calendar client synchronization is also available because Zimbra supports the iCal and CalDAV (Calendaring Extensions to Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) open-standards for clients like Evolution, Mozilla Lightning and Apple iCal. Features include:

  • Access messages with any POP or IMAP email client

  • Access events on clients that support iCal or CalDAV

  • Access contacts on clients that support CardDAV (Apple Address Book)

  • Sync all contacts with full import and export (.csv file)

Mobile Web Browser

In addition to Advanced (AJAX) and Standard (HTML) browser modes, ZCS supports mobile web email and collaboration wherein admin has the ability to set mobile security policies including device wipe, PINs and device-management features on user accounts. The Mobile mode is AJAX web technology optimized for smaller device and tablet form factors, and provides rich functionality on virtually any device. Features include:

  • Real-time access to email, contacts, address book, calendar, briefcase, search

  • View shared content (folders, contacts, schedules)

  • Use conversation views and tags

  • Conduct server-side searches including functionality in Visual Search Builder

  • View all folders, saved searches, flags and tags

  • Mark messages as spam

Flexible Deployment Choice between a Traditional Install on Linux or as a Software Virtual Appliance

Beginning with Zimbra 8, ZCS is available as a virtual software appliance. The Zimbra virtual software appliance delivers an integrated OS and application that is optimized for performance on vSphere. With the pervasiveness of virtualization, there will be a rise in software virtual appliances as the preferred delivery model for most software as it streamlines deployment - usually less than 10 minutes, and is easy and less risky to maintain with a single lifecycle management policy for the OS, middleware and app.

ZCS may also be deployed natively on hardware or virtualized. Deployment can be on-premise or as a cloud service from a VMware hosting partner. Features include:

  • Fully supports multi-tenancy and delegated administration for hosting and service providers

  • Role-based delegated administration to create domain or limited administration settings per account

Who Uses Zimbra

Customers who purchase ZCS range from small companies of less than 100 users to large service providers. Zimbra customers are found in all verticals with the highest growth in small to medium-sized organizations, companies or organizations that have a highly dispersed and/or mobile workforce (telecommuters, 1099 contract workers, many satellite offices etc.), foreign government entities and organizations in emerging markets. These areas find Zimbra attractive because it provides a browser-based solution that is less costly to deploy, maintain and support when compared to client-focused solutions such as Outlook/Exchange.

As of 4Q11, there were 83 million paid mailboxes and over 250,000 enterprises worldwide were using Zimbra as SaaS. Zimbra also claims about 45,000 registered members of its development community.

What This Means to You

To Customers: VMware provides you the flexibility to integrate Zimbra with your existing UCC solution and consequently find a solution provider that can deliver expertise specifically for those needs. This is a definite plus.

The product is available in two server product editions: a free Open Source Edition and a commercial ZCS Network Edition (Starter, Standard and Professional). Either can be deployed on-premise by organizations or hosting providers. ZCS is sold per user mailbox in bundled packs of 25, 250 and 2,500. Packs are available as annual, multi-year and perpetual software licenses. Multi-year licenses renew every two or three years based on day of purchase and are had at a discounted level from annual licenses.

  • ZCS Network Starter Edition is a software-only package with 15 Professional Edition mailbox licenses plus software and updates only - no Zimbra Support. Additional mailbox licenses cannot be added; Zimbra Mobile and Zimbra Archiving and Discovery are included.

  • ZCS Network Standard Edition is an enterprise-grade email and collaboration solution with no cap on the number of mailboxes that can be licensed. Zimbra Advantage and Premium support are available for purchase with perpetual licenses and are included with term licenses.

  • ZCS Network Professional Edition is an enterprise-grade email and collaboration solution with no cap on the number of mailboxes that can be licensed. It features Zimbra Mobile, Zimbra Connector for Outlook, and Zimbra Archiving and Discovery. Zimbra Advantage and Premium support are available for purchase with perpetual licenses and are included with term licenses.

Both on-premise and hosted Zimbra have been shown to have competitive total costs of ownership when compared against similar deployments of Microsoft's Exchange and Office 365, IBM Lotus Notes Domino, Novell GroupWise and Google Apps. Moreover, that it is a viable email solution is underscored by its integration with Cisco, Mitel and availability via Siemens UCC solutions.

At one point Cisco was looking to displace Microsoft Exchange through their PostPath acquisition. However, Cisco ultimately dropped development of this email platform. Now they have Zimbra to leverage. Individual enterprises building UCC on a Cisco platform, therefore will have a natural attraction in this direction - others not so much so.

Regardless of on-prem UCC/email solution, all enterprises need to do a full business case incorporating the risk-adjusted costs and benefits that Zimbra brings to their cloud-based UCC implementation strategy versus other cloud-based UCC/email solutions of which there are many.

To Partners: VMware sells Zimbra directly as well as through its partner network. Customers can purchase an on-premise solution, choose to work with one of VMware's hosting partners or go to a third-party to run Zimbra in the cloud. Certainly the Zimbra 8 buzz will create a lot of partner opportunity in terms of sale of on-prem and cloud licenses as well as pro services.

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