VMware Zimbra Beta Lays Down MS Exchange Challenge

VMware has unveiled a new beta of its Zimbra enterprise email server, which now includes a range of corporate comm offerings

VMware has launched a new beta version of its Zimbra enterprise email server, which now includes more communication functionality than traditional email servers.

Zimbra can be deployed in private, public or hybrid clouds. The open source-based system currently has an installed base of about 250,000 enterprises worldwide that maintain more than 85 million paid mailboxes.

Zimbra also claims about 50,000 registered members of its development community.

Corporate Comms

Zimbra 8 is designed to make users more efficient by connecting them with all their data in one place,” John Robb, senior director at VMware, told eWEEK. “At the same time, it provides IT departments a simpler way to manage the transition to a public or private cloud and help deliver the benefits promised by the post-PC era.”

Robb said that Zimbra 8.0 is designed to fill all the gaps between conventional email business communication and social networking.

“We absolutely believe that personal collaboration, which is email, calendaring and address book, needs to become a lot more social,” Robb said. “Address books need to become aware of things like LinkedIn, calendars much more aware of group calendars, et cetera.

“Complementing this is (VMware’s) SocialCast, which is group collaboration, so you can get into projects in a more public way with large groups of people across an organization. That’s when we transition customers into new forms of collaboration.”

Cisco Systems and VMware have integrated collaboration applications such as Jabber and WebEx into Zimbra 8.0 to bring together presence, instant messaging, voice and video, voice messaging, desktop sharing and conferencing into a consistent experience across PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones.

Canadian telco Mitel has optimized its IP voice system to run on Zimbra. Mitel and VMware have delivered virtualised voice apps to more than 2,000 Mitel clients, said Alan Zurakowski, director of business development and strategic alliances for Mitel.

Product Specs

Key features of Zimbra 8.0 Unified Communications:

  • Click-to-Call any phone number with call routing to device or soft phone.
  • Visual Voicemail with inline playback, management, and MWI status update.
  • Presence indication and launch of Click-to-Chat with Cisco Jabber integration.
  • WebEx integration to schedule and launch Cisco WebEx sessions directly from Zimbra.
  • Call history with placed, received, and missed calls visible within Zimbra.
  • Ability to extend or integrate other third-party UC solutions.

Zimbra also has been updated to provide browser-based functionality featuring a smarter mailbox that helps users manage the flow of information through their email, voice and social channels.

This functionality includes:

  • Updated browser-based user interface featuring social conversation view.
  • Auto-filtering of bulk and distribution lists.
  • Expanded search capabilities, end-user managed distribution lists, shared tagging.
  • Enterprise calendar that offers scheduling suggestions for complex meetings, smart views for managing multiple calendar.

Zimbra 8.0 is available as a virtual software appliance that can be deployed in as little as 10 minutes and requires minimal ongoing management, Robb said. For these virtualised environments, Zimbra is already integrated with VMware Horizon 1.5 and VMware vSphere 5.

VMware is making Zimbra 8.0 Beta available for download to organizations worldwide. For a beta download, video and screenshots of Zimbra 8, or to register for a webinar, go here.

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