Zimbra Offers Feature-Rich E-Mail Client


Zimbra is betting that the world is ready for a feature-rich e-mail service that costs less than Microsoft Exchange Server or Lotus Domino.

The Network Edition of Zimbra Collaboration Suite offers robust multitenancy capabilities so resellers and ISPs can host multiple clients on pooled servers safely and securely, said Scott Dietzen, president and CTO of the San Mateo, Calif., company.

“There&s a big business around hosted Exchange, but it&s expensive to deploy and license, and resellers can&t rebrand it as their own,” he said.

Speakeasy, a Seattle-based provider of managed broadband mail/VoIP and other services for business and residential use, is taking a look at the service, according to Danny Pickford, vice president of technology. “One big plus is it&s completely cross-platform inherently, which widens the marketplace. It integrates quite well with other products, including Exchange,” Pickford said.

Second, Zimbra uses the AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) programming technique for building lightweight but rich interactive applications. “It&s slick and feature-rich, especially when you realize it&s managed from the Web app without the need for a large, monolithic desktop client,” Pickford said.

Zimbra&s open-source tools and frameworks are also a plus, because Speakeasy&s staff understands the technology, he said.

“We have the ability to get into it deep, understand it well and control how we upgrade and manage it. That&s very attractive,” Pickford said.

Zimbra fields a dual product strategy, with a free version and a commercial version. The latter—which adds cross-mailbox search, discovery and indexing of attachments, support and fixes—sells for $30 per mailbox per year.

Zimbra also claims that its server reduces managed storage overhead with its use of a single-copy message store.

The product&s “active messaging” concept aims to “mash up” e-mail with Web-based services. For example, users hovering over an address in a message can be sent to Google Maps for directions. Mousing-over and right-clicking on a FedEx order number brings up the order status. Mousing-over and right-clicking on a VoIP link launches the VoIP soft phone service that&s activated on that PC, said John Robb, vice president of marketing and product management at Zimbra.

VARs and ISPs can facilitate these Web links by writing to Zimbra APIs.

Zimbra supports common mail and collaboration protocols, including MAPI and ICAL.

Users can continue to use their familiar Apple Mail, Evolution or Eudora mail clients or opt for Zimbra&s own AJAX-based client.