VMware on Tuesday said it planned to purchase Zimbra from Yahoo, a move that gives the virtualization leader a strong, cloud-based, open-source collaboration suite with which it could attack rival Microsoft's Outlook and Exchange e-mail applications.
Financial details of the acquisition were not released. However, several rumors over the past week or so estimated the price to be about $100 million, much lower than the $350 million Yahoo paid when it bought Zimbra in 2007.
Zimbra is the developer of the open-source Zimbra Collaboration Suite, which includes applications to coordinate, manage, and share e-mails from multiple vendors, including Microsoft's Outlook, in a single interface; perform group scheduling; and handle desktop and mobile device synchronization.
The company currently serves 55 million mailboxes, with overall mailbox growth of 86 percent and SMB mailbox growth of 165 percent in 2009, VMware said.
The acquisition, once it closes, would be the second open-source acquisition for VMware.
The company in August acquired SpringSource, a developer of applications based on open-source technologies and a leader in such open-source communities as the enterprise Java programming model Spring Framework, the Apache Tomcat Java application server environment, and the Groovy and Grails dynamic language and Web application framework.
In a blog post on the acquisition, VMware CTO Steve Herrod wrote that Zimbra will help VMware enhance its cloud computing offerings in two ways.
First, Herrod wrote, it will help VMware simplify IT. Zimbra is the most popular software for developing virtual appliances, Herrod wrote. "Once deployed onto VMware vSphere, the Zimbra virtual appliance will automatically benefit from the built-in VMware vSphere scalability, availability, and security services," he wrote.
The acquisition also lets VMware expand on its vCloud cloud computing technology and SpringSource "platform-as-a-service" capabilities by adding an integrated portfolio of applications, giving VMware a "software-as-a-service" offering.
The Zimbra Collaboration Suite also competes in some ways with some of arch rival Microsoft's key products, including Office, giving VMware another tool for competing with Microsoft.
However, Herrod wrote in his blog, VMware does not want to alienate Microsoft Office users from working with VMware's vSphere virtualization technology, which competes with Microsoft's Hyper-V.
"VMware vSphere is and will continue to be an outstanding platform for the deployment of Microsoft Exchange. We have heavily optimized our virtualization offerings specifically for the deployment of Microsoft Exchange, and thousands of companies are benefiting from the increased flexibility, availability, and security that comes from running Microsoft Exchange on top of VMware vSphere," he wrote.
VMware brings the opportunity to become more involved in cloud computing, wrote Jim Morrisroe, vice president of sales for Zimbra, in a blog on the acquisition.
"Private and/or public cloud computing networks can work together and applications can be deployed and managed seamlessly across those clouds. Zimbra products were designed from the ground up with virtualization and the cloud in mind, with a modular architecture and APIs to allow distributed access to data and storage," Morrisroe wrote. "Email and collaboration services have always been ubiquitous to organizations, but now the barriers to transitioning them to efficient virtualized environments will be much more seamless."