VMware Zimbra: cloud messaging & collaboration overview

When you think about VMware End User Computing, most people will think of VMware View and ThinApp. That’s great but there is more…. Zimbra!

I noticed that I didn’t write anything about Zimbra so far. Strange, because the fact is, I’m using Zimbra every day, on all my devices and I can say I’m both a happy user and Zimbra admin (although there isn’t much to admin, it really just works).

In this article I want to give you an overview of Zimbra, get you introduced to Zimbra

In January 2010 VMware acquired Zimbra. At that time, Zimbra was part of Yahoo! Yahoo! Mail and Calendar is based on Zimbra technology.  In 2010 Zimbra has 55 million paid mailboxes and 150,000 customers worldwide: Comcast, NTT Communications and University of Pennsylvania to name a few.

VMware CTO Steve Herrod wrote a great blog why VMware acquired Zimbra. Basically, there were 2 reasons:

  1. It is VMware’s mission to simplify IT and removing complexity. With Zimbra, VMware believes it can simplify one of the core services that IT provides to end users: email and collaboration. Zimbra can be downloaded as a virtual appliance. Setup and configuration is very simple and straightforward. Besides that, it is intended for small and large organizations, so, it is very scalable in an easy way. Also, as a customer you have an option how to use Zimbra: on-prem or from the Cloud. Zimbra has proven to be a great Cloud based email and collaboration platform.
  2. The second reason is the vCloud initiative.  An initiative to develop an ecosystem of telecom, hosting and service providers that offer cloud based solutions based on VMware technology. With Zimbra, service providers now can offer email/calendaring/collaboration as a service.

In January 2010, version 6 just shipped. Today, August 2012, Zimbra 8 is in beta. New features in v8 will be the integration of Zimbra with Mitel and Cisco UC solutions: call someone straight from your email client to name an example. Also, the UI looks amazing. Very clean!

The interface is one of the strong points though. On my desktop, laptop and mobile devices I always have the same interface. It doesn’t matter if I use the web interface or the Zimbra Desktop Client. Of course you also could use the native email clients on your IOS/Android device. There even is a Zimbra Client for Android (http://bright-streams.com/?p=348)

Another great feature are Zimlets. Zimlets add functionality to Zimbra and create integration between Zimbra and other tools/applications. For example, I do have a Google Translate Zimlet installed (it sits on the backend, on the Zimbra server).

After activating the Zimlet, a Google Translate button appears in the menu bar. When I receive an email, and it is in a language I don’t understand, I simply click on the Translate button and can chose to which language I want that email to be translated. Other examples are: Salesforce and Webex zimlets.

Zimbra has too many features to discuss during this overview. I do want to mention thought, that Zimbra can be added as a service to Horizon Application Manager. That way, users can access their email and collaboration platform via their Horizon based workspace.

With this article, I just wanted to give you a brief overview on Zimbra. It is a serious email and collaboration platform and for sure worth taking into consideration. Below I will add additional information so you can continue getting to know Zimbra.


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