Zimbra Breaks Out Collaboration Suite

Zimbra Exchange Server Lotus Domino.

The Network Edition of Zimbra Collaboration Suite offers robust multi-tenancy capabilities so that resellers and ISPs can host multiple clients on pooled server or 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," Dietzen 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 noted.

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Secondly, it has "a very nice Web interface, using AJAX technologies. 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."

AJAX, or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, is a programming technique for building lightweight but rich interactive applications.

Zimbra's basis in open-source tools and frameworks also makes it suitable for Speakeasy, he said. "We have the ability to get into it deep and understand it well and control how we upgrade and manage it is very attractive. If the system breaks, has a problem or needs a feature enhancement or needs to scale ten times, we can use a lot o four existing expertise to do it," he said.

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

Zimbra claims its server also 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 or mousing-over and right-clicking on a VoIP link launches whatever VoIP soft phone service is activated on that PC, said John Robb, vice president of marketing and product management.

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 Eudora, Apple Mail, Evolution, Eudora mail clients or opt for Zimbra's own Ajax-based client.

Zimbra, formerly called Liquid Systems, was founded by Satish Dharmaraj. Also aboard are Dietzen, former CTO of BEA Systems. Eric Hahn, founder of Collabra and former CTO of Netscape Communications is on the board.

The privately held company has some $16 million in backing from Benchmark Capital, Red Point Ventures, Accel Partners and Hahn.