Can Zimbra compete with Google Apps in education?

Information Week featured an article on Yahoo's Zimbra service for email and collaboration in use with educational institutions.

Information Week featured an article on Yahoo's Zimbra service for email and collaboration in use with educational institutions. While Zimbra, which "already provides e-mail through on-premises software at a number of marquee education accounts, including Stanford University, Georgia Tech, the University of California at Davis, Pennsylvania University, Northeastern, Carleton College, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State," it remains to be seen whether it can compete with Google's free offerings for education.

According to the article,

E-mail will be offered as a hosted service in a free, advertising-supported option, or as a paid-for service that gives institutions the chance to brand it with their university emblems and design color...

The ad-supported e-mail and collaboration tools are seen as particularly useful for alumni; currently, Zimbra's largest install base comes from software installed and administered onsite, so the hosted environment is making some inroads into Google's traditional strengths.

One of Zimbra's real strengths, however, is its flexibility:

Zimbra combines online service with offline ability to continue to read e-mail and prepare messages on the mobile Zimbra Desktop for sending upon renewal of the network connection. Faculty mail may be engineered around service to a variety of clients, including BlackBerrys. Mobile access can be granted to students or faculty from laptops, iPhones, Java Mobile Edition devices, or any mobile Web browser.

So where is your organization headed? Host your own? Use an external solution like Google's or Yahoo's? Share your experiences below.

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