VMware Takes Zimbra to the Cloud

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Aug 12, 2010

More on Zimbra and VMware

When VMware announced its intent to purchase Zimbra from Yahoo back in January there was some concern Zimbra might be "going from one company that had no idea what to do with it to another."

Six-months post-acquisition, VMware has absorbed Zimbra from both organizational and developmental perspectives. This week's product release reveals much about its future positioning in the VMware ecosystem.

And that seemed to be the last anyone heard from the open source collaboration company.

Until Tuesday, when VMware (NYSE: VMW) announced Zimbra's assimilation into its new parent company is now complete. This means VMware's sales team now sells Zimbra and vice versa; VMware's Global Support Services support Zimbra customers; Zimbra fully supports VMware; and VMware customers and partners have full access to Zimbra’s email and collaboration product suite, Zimbra General Manager Jim Morisroe told ServerWatch.

Integration occurred on the back end as well. VMware at this time unveiled the Zimbra Collaboration Suite Appliance, an email and collaboration solution available as a virtual appliance designed to run on the VMware vSphere platform. It was developed with an eye on reducing infrastructure costs and complexities.

The Zimbra Collaboration Suite Appliance includes the Zimbra Email and Collaboration Server, the Zimbra Advanced Web Client and Zimbra Mobile.

Because vSphere is a touchstone for Zimbra Collaboration Suite Appliance, Zimbra is an option for customers that have the resources to run it in their own data center as well as those that would prefer to hand over the reigns to an MSP. VMware has more than 2,000 VMware vCloud partners that can host the application as a service. Those that opt to keep it in-house will find the virtual appliance easier to deploy and manage than traditional software. Further contributing to the simplicity is that the Zimbra Appliance follows the Open Virtualization Format (OVF), making provisioning and lifecycle management a more streamlined process.

Nothing terribly surprising in the feature set, simplified migration and interoperability so customers can migrate from Microsoft Exchange and Domino environments; integration with Active Directory; remote Web-based admin for "anywhere administration"; automated software and security updates; and an integrated application stack that enables more rapid deployment of both the integrated operating system and application stack along with firewall, anti-virus and anti-spam filtering.

Although the current release supports a single instance with up to 1,000 mailboxes, a multi-instance version capable of supporting up several thousand mailboxes is in the works for a 2011 release, Morisroe said.

One business benefit of Zimbra's packaging is that because it is contained within an appliance, should the customer be dissatisfied with the MSP, it can move its messaging and collaboration environment to another MSP, with end users unaware and not impacted by the move.

VMware has set the pricing for the Zimbra Collaboration Suite Appliance to be both "SMB and channel friendly with a simple price point that scales," Morisroe explained. A 25 mailbox pack is $625 for a perpetual license. Morisroe emphasized that this is not a rental arrangement, and customers can move it across various deployment options.

It's safe to say: Zimbra's days of displacement are over. It has a role to play within the VMware ecosystem that has ample room for growth.

Amy Newman is the senior managing editor of ServerWatch and Enterprise IT Planet. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, published by Pearson in October 2009.

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