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Zimbra's email worth a look

zimbra.jpgThere is a lot of hype being generated by this Web 2.0 conference, and for starters there are way to many collaboration tools hitting the market. So we will remain skeptical, with Om, but at the same time try to point out notable features that add something new -- even if the features may not be enough to sustain a stand alone company.

One such feature is the email offering from Zimbra, which will be presenting today. Its demo has been out for several weeks though. We took a look (at the flash demo here), and were impressed. Just take a look at it and you'll see what we mean.

Here is Jeff Nolan, who is the venture guy over at SAP Ventures:

..it's a very very cool AJAX email client. The app itself is basically Outlook (reminiscent of Oddpost) but the fact that this is built on an AJAX framework offers a lot of potential for developers who want to extend it or build their own messaging apps using the same framework

Still, we're still not sure about what will drive people away from Microsoft Outlook/Exchange. Despite Zimbra's claim that email is broken, it appears to use that it works well enough for most people. And does Zimbra have the policy management and security that will allow big companies to be comfortable with it? There's a string of companies that have so far failed to dislodge Microsoft. Ximian had an open source email client that could connect with Exchange servers, was popular with Linux fans but how has it done? There is Scalix, which was launched with great fanfare a while ago. There is Mitch Kapor's Chandler project.

Anyway, Zimbra is based in San Mateo, and unlike other smaller companies just launching, this one already has backing from some well-known Silicon Valley venture firms, Benchmark Partners and Redpoint Ventures.

Release is in extended entry below.

Zimbra Unveils Innovative, Open Source Collaboration Software and Messaging Server

Compelling new open source e-mail and messaging application transforms administrator and user interaction, permits effortless integration with existing infrastructures

SAN MATEO - Oct. 4, 2005 - Today, in conjunction with this weeks prestigious Web 2.0 Conference, Zimbra () officially unveiled its innovative open source messaging server and client - the Zimbra Collaboration Suite. Built on open source technology, the Zimbra Collaboration Suite will fundamentally change the way people interact with e-mail by fixing the most frustrating problems for users and administrators. Currently available as a Beta, the messaging server and client will be generally available in November.

The Zimbra Collaboration Suite is multi-tiered; on the back end, the collaboration server integrates search, archiving, discovery, anti-spam and anti-virus/security features into a single messaging platform which is able to support a companys current network and end-user experience. On the front end, a rich, thin, AJAX-based web client brings e-mail to life through web mash-ups; for example, when viewing an e-mail, users can see their schedule by hovering over a date, or see the status of a purchase order by hovering over the number. Additionally, it is compatible with all leading browsers and enables e-mail, calendar and contact functions to work more effectively across a variety of desktop clients, including Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird and Apple Mail.

Enterprise e-mail is broken, said Satish Dharmaraj, CEO and founder of Zimbra. From overflowing inboxes to the nuisance of organizing correspondence, to the cost of managing storage, viruses, availability, retention and legal discovery and compliance, dealing with corporate e-mail has become a nightmare. Zimbras server and application innovations solve these problems for both end users and administrators.

Zimbra, a privately held company, received $16 million in series A and B funding from investors Accel Partners, Benchmark Capital, Redpoint Ventures and Eric Hahn, former Netscape CTO.

Commitment to Open Source
Zimbra has launched a worldwide open source community. This growing Zimbra community is working on expanding the platform into new countries and languages, implementing the technology in different environments and innovating to ensure that the product is a leader in cross-platform support for both the server and the end user.

"As one of the lead investors in Red Hat and MySQL, we've seen up close the impact that successful open source communities can have," said Kevin Harvey, General Partner at Benchmark Capital. "We're backing Zimbra because we're convinced that the combination of open source and innovation that the Zimbra team brings to the table will have the same kind of impact on enterprise messaging."

Innovation for the Administrator
The Zimbra Collaboration Suite was built with a focus on manageability, scalability, compatibility and performance. It supports many different browsers and OS platforms, and allows administrators to reduce managed storage overhead by as much as 80 percent, as shared attachments on the server eliminate the need for all attachments to exist in each mailbox or storage group. Zimbra administrators benefit from features including:

Integrated search, spam, archiving and anti-virus/security features;
Compatibility with a range of desktops - Windows, Mac and Linux - and mobile devices;
Intelligent leveraging of web-standard collaboration technologies like RSS and web services, rather than proprietary alternatives;

Open source technology, which allows for maximum extensibility of the platform and maximum community innovation;

Ease of administration;
Server-centric architecture to enable the archiving of all messages for compliance or discovery, implementation of e-mail retention policies, multi-client support, multi-device support, faster performance and client/server synchronization; and

Increased sharing of attachments within and between servers, reducing managed storage overhead dramatically.

"Zimbra is one of the brightest innovations I've seen in over two decades of working with e-mail, said Eric Hahn, former CTO of Netscape and General Manager of cc:Mail. Zimbra's SOAP-based back-end services make administration, management and integration far easier than is possible with legacy mail offerings. Additionally, Zimbra's AJAX client provides end users with a world class, highly-responsive, cross-platform user interface. This is exactly the architecture that modern business enterprise needs."

Innovation for the End User
A welcome transformation from traditional static e-mail, Zimbras Active Messaging technology - built on AJAX - brings e-mail to life; for example, when viewing an e-mail, users can see a map by hovering over an address in the body of the message or they can find out the status of a package delivery by hovering over a package tracking number. Additionally, Zimbra makes e-mail and messaging easier for the end user through the delivery of native search, self-organizing conversations and the freedom of choice of clients. Zimbra users benefit from features including:

Full-featured collaboration and Outlook functionality via a web browser, providing mash-up capabilities in e-mail;

Cross platform support for existing messaging clients;
Tightly-integrated indexing and search, which provide the basis for the self-organizing inbox in much the same way that Google and its counterparts organize the contents of the Internet;

Self-organizing mailboxes save user time currently spent organizing - moving and copying correspondence between folders;

Self-organizing conversations which prevent the need to reassemble the multiple message threads that comprise a conversation; and

Context simplified through the integration of various applications - such as a calendar or purchase order visible within an e-mail - rather than switching back and forth between programs.

Zimbras Public License package is available free of charge. Zimbras Network Standard Edition is available for $30 per mailbox per year. Companies interested in signing up can visit:

About Zimbra:
Zimbra is the leader in open source, next-generation collaboration and messaging for the enterprise. Zimbra allows companies to decrease the cost and complexity required to run large e-mail and collaboration systems through groundbreaking collaboration software. Zimbra enables e-mail, calendar and contact functions to work more effectively. Zimbra offers a next-generation messaging server with integrated search, spam protection, archiving and anti-virus/security features.

Zimbras flagship solution, the Zimbra Collaboration Suite, is supported cross-platform, including Linux, Unix and Mac OS X on the server-side; and Windows, Linux and Mac desktops. The Zimbra Collaboration Suite user interface is an AJAX based browser application and offers significantly greater functionality than desktop client counterparts. It supports Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer browsers.

Key customers include Fortune 1000 enterprises as well as medium and small businesses particularly in the financial services, retail, publishing sectors, and higher education institutions. For more information, please visit:


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Actually, one can never say.
At certain threshold, triggered by complex factors, faster broadband internet, the dicotomy and difference between local box based mail clients or remote online server based clients will erase. At this point, Outlook will just loose its importance. Ofcourse security and corporate adaptability are huge stakes to tip the scales. Just my point

Jagan on October 5, 2005 10:20 AM
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You write:

Ximian had an open source email client that could connect with Exchange servers, was popular with Linux fans but how has it done?

Consider Thunderbird from mozilla.org. Thunderbird connects to Exchange servers and even corporate address books (via the LDAP protocol). Plus as a Mozilla release, Thunderbird works well with Firefox. As an open source product, Thunderbird has an API that anyone can play with and there are already lots of extensions available.

Alison Chaiken on October 8, 2005 10:24 PM
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Thunderbird is nice, but it does not offer a full Outlook replacement. And yes, that IS what I am looking for at this firm.

I need a single-software solution for e-mail, calendar (so I can see my and other's appointments), etc. that standardizes my organization's software (I am the ONLY IT guy, and I don't want to learn every e-mail client, every calendar, etc.).

Zimbra looks good, and I will be looking at it unless Evolution for Windows gets finished soon.

Counsel on November 21, 2005 10:43 AM
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Zimbra is an amazingly effective and graceful cross-platform solution for business collaboration.

We (Amicus, Inc.) liked it so much we put it to use internally. We liked that so much, we became one of the first 5 Zimbra Hosting Partners and are now offerring 'Amicus Envoy with Zimbra Inside,' which simple is the Zimbra Collaboration Suite with optional, integrated archive and regulatory compliance solutions. If you want to try the product out in action, check us out for a 30 day demo account.

Robert Matney on April 3, 2006 12:52 PM
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Let's evaluate two MS Exchange replacement segments:
- the growing market where opensource php mail/calendring apps are migrated to advanced licensed apps like Zimbra (see also Radicati research)
- the direct Exchange on Linux replacement market where systemadmins will make sure outlook sharing is stable and done the MS-'mapi' way, see scalix(http://www.scalix.com) and Zarafa (http://www.zarafa.com).

Kevin B. on April 9, 2006 8:16 AM
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