Zimbra Goes To Hosting, Scalix Launches Mail Appliance Kit


A couple small e-mail vendors already offering affordable alternatives to IBM Domino and Microsoft Exchange Server, have some new tricks up their sleeves.

Zimbra Software, a darling among the mash-up, Web 2.0 crowd is now offering a program for partners who want to host its collaboration and e-mail offering outright or offer managed services based on it.

VARs servicing small- and mid-sized customers pay $1.75 per mailbox per month and can mark the service up depending on the value they add, said Satish Dharmaraj, CEO and co-founder of San Mateo, Calif.-based Zimbra.

In addition, VARs can use Zimbra's APIs and toolset to "collaboration-enable" existing applications.

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With Zimbra a VAR "can take project management program and make its database accessible via a 'Zimlets' and actually incorporate information from that project database into e-mail either in the form of a mouse-over that shows relevant details or in a clickable link that might bring up a browser-enabled view of the data. Even better with CRM, you could set it up so if a customer e-mail comes in, you can mouse-over the address and get from your CRM system the last three or four interactions with that customer," said Gregg Rosenberg, president of RICIS, an e-mail specialist in Tinley Park, Ill.

Matthew Porter, CEO of Contegix, a St. Louis-based hosting provider is aboard with Zimbra. His company will host it on a dedicated-server basis, but will also offer it up to other ISPs or managed service providers who in turn will customize and resell it for their customers, Porter said.

Dharmaraj says while most attention on Zimbra has focused on its glitzy interface, the offering has solid back-end capabilities including support for multi-tenancy, hierarchical storage management and multi-domain administration.

A VAR with a practice specializing in doctors offices, for example, could set up a very simple admin console for the office manager to do basic thingsadd-change-delete users, create aliases from a simple screen, but retain the more complex admin task rites to be done remotely.

For VARs, the beauty of this scenario is that they, not the mail vendor, retain account control, Dharmaraj said.

Ease of deployment and use is the goal for a new Scalix e-mail appliance "kit" slated to debut at LinuxWorld in Boston next week.

The Scalix Appliance Kit layers preconfigured Scalix e-mail and calendaring, ClamAV antivirus, and SpamAssassin atop Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 for loading on the inexpensive Linux-ready server-of-choice. Pricing starts at $995.

RICIS' Rosenberg said this offering will help resellers who want to dip their toes into the Linux/open source world do so with a capable offering that is relatively easy to set up and maintain for customers. "They don't have to reinvent the wheel, and still look good while they transition their skills from Netware or Windows to Linux," he said.

If VARs prefer another anti-spam offering, they can drop that in place of the bundled solutions.

"You can do a manual install in 15 minutes and have a fully hardened appliance with carrier-grade Linux pre-installed with antivirus, Tripwire [intrusion detection] for servers pre-configured," he said. The appliance is slated to ship in April.

Open-Xchange, another open-source collaboration competitor recently announced a collaboration appliance that takes advantage of VMware virtualization. Virtual Open-Xchange for Debian is now available for evaluation. Versions for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are in the works, according to the Tarrytown, N.Y. company.