Virtualization kingpin VMware is rumored to be in the process of acquiring Zimbra from Yahoo, a move which, if true, would give it a strong open-source collaboration suite with which it could attack archrival Microsoft’s Outlook and Exchange e-mail applications.
The online news site All Things Digital reported on Monday that Yahoo may be close to selling its Zimbra business unit to VMware at a price much lower than the $350 million paid when it bought Zimbra in 2007.
The deal came about in part because of the long-term relationship between Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz and VMware CEO Paul Maritz, according to the report. Yahoo has been trying to sell Zimbra for several months, according to the news site.
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; do group scheduling; and handle desktop and mobile device synchronization.
Should the acquisition rumor prove true, it would represent a possible new direction for VMware. VMware has traditionally made its virtualization platform one on top of which software vendors can run their applications rather than providing the applications itself.
However, such an acquisition could be important to VMware for several reasons.
First of all, it would give VMware an open-source application that in many ways competes with some of Microsoft’s key products, including Office.
More importantly, VMware would gain an open-source application that it could run as part of a cloud computing stack, either as a product in itself or as a way to show its software partners how to work with cloud computing.
The potential tie to cloud computing is very real, according to Scott Lowe, a longtime and well-respected blogger on virtualization issues. However, his post came about a week after he announced that he will shortly be starting to work for storage vendor EMC, which owns the majority of VMware.
Lowe on Tuesday wrote in his blog that his initial reaction to the rumored acquisition was one of disbelief, as other software companies have tried to compete against Microsoft’s Office applications, particularly Exchange, and failed.
However, Lowe wrote, the acquisition could work as applications start moving toward a cloud computing-based architecture.
“I do feel that VMware would not be successful taking on Microsoft Exchange without redefining how e-mail platforms—as a key part of the overall application stack—can be provisioned, deployed and managed in conjunction with VMware’s broader private cloud/public cloud strategy,” he wrote.
VMware did not respond to requests for a response to the acquisition rumor.