VMware Seeks Bigger Piece Of Enterprise With Zimbra 7 Launch

just over a year ago

Zimbra 7 features beefed up calendaring, search, administration and management tools, as well as expanded Blackberry support and a mobile client that's custom designed for Apple's iPad. It works with Zimbra's Briefcase feature to allow users to share and store files in the cloud. VMware has added a new authentication directory API that allows industry partners to integrate Zimbra into their systems, said John Robb, senior director of Zimbra products and marketing.

Robb said large organizations will be the chief beneficiaries of the new features, and this segment is squarely in VMware's crosshairs as it looks to continue building its current Zimbra user base of 66 million paid mailboxes and 200,000 organizations.

VMware's core business lies in cloud infrastructure and virtualization platform development, but end user computing is a growing area of strategic focus for the company. Zimbra is a key product in this regard because it's designed to keep workers connected to their vital information in a wide range of scenarios, Robb said.

For example, VMware offers an offline client for Zimbra free of charge to enable mobile workers to remain productive while they're on the road.

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"It's the same technology stack running locally on the PC, which means you can take your cloud with you on the go," said Robb. "We need to provide these types of containers, like virtual desktop or phone experiences, to provide better access to applications and personal and shared data."

VMware is seeing strong interest in Zimbra in the business hosting, enterprise and government sectors, and Robb attributed this to Zimbra channel partners that were grandfathered into VMware's program after the acquisition and have continued to drive demand for the Zimbra collaboration suite.

Although Zimbra's collaboration suite competes with Microsoft Office, VMware has endeavored to avoid alienating its virtualization customers who've standardized on Office. However, with Zimbra 7 being given fresh set of enterprise-ready tools, VMware may be adopting a more aggressive stance when it comes to highlighting Office's shortcomings.

Robb said some Microsoft hosting partners have been spooked by fears of disintermediation and reduced commission payments for selling Office 365, adding that VMware is seeing more interest in Zimbra as a result of this trepidation.

"VMware is happy to virtualize Exchange," said Robb. "But we see a large number of organizations saying that Exchange isn't a great browser-based experience and doesn't give them a great SaaS-like experience."

Zimbra Collaboration Server 7 (formerly known as Zimbra Collaboration Suite) is available for download today, along with beta versions of VMware Zimbra Desktop 7 and VMware Zimbra Appliance 7. VMware said final versions of these products will arrive within 90 days.