Can Zimbra compete with Google Apps in education?

Can Zimbra compete with Google Apps in education?

Summary: 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.

Topics: Apps, Collaboration, Google

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Gmail's recent failure

    is reason enough not to use an external system - no control of your destiny at all
    • Control

      You can't always control what happens in-house either. Accidents happen, and stuff breaks. For the price, what can you expect? Some places can't afford to buy or pay people to administrate all their hardware and software. It's all about what you can afford to get by with, or what you have to lose by not having access.
    • Could you do better?

      Oh come on, no one has 100% uptime. I'd say that
      Google does well providing all of the services and
      uptime that they provide. In any case, it's a FREE
      SERVICE. You want to demand perfection from someone,
      you'd better be paying for it. If you're not paying,
      don't complain. As I see it, these free services are
      pretty much gifts. We are getting tons of amazing apps
      from Google and giving them nothing in return but
      complaints when their servers go down once in a blue
      So if you want to control your own stuff, go out and
      BUY yourself a server, and then administer it. And I'd
      REALLY like to see you keep your email services online
      at all times.

      In any case, I know things are going to happen.
      Technology fails sometimes. That's why I use multiple
      email addresses, all of them forwarding critical
      emails to each other. So if my google account goes
      down, I miss out on a couple of ZDNet updates and
      other such newsletters and things, but all emails from
      each of my personal contacts end up in three seperate
      inboxes on three seperate servers. It's not that hard
      to maintain, and it pretty much guarantees uptime.
      I've yet to not be able to access my emails.

      And I read your article... why is a business CEO using
      gmail? I'm not saying it's a bad service for high-
      powered business people, but I've never worked
      somewhere that doesn't have it's own domain address
      and Exchange server...
  • RE: Can Zimbra compete with Google Apps in education?

    I'm taking some time this week to introduce students to open office. It isn't bad and it's free. If you need a program and have a clue about how these things work you can do pretty well.

    At some point your teachers may force you or your parents to get MS office but working with more than one program makes you more flexible.

    Our students use gaggle to send attachments to teachers or just up load and store them where the teacher can look at them.

    Why not use the system server? Don't ask.

    I don't see any reason why not. When I looked it over Zimbra seemed to be heading in the right direction.
  • RE: Can Zimbra compete with Google Apps in education?

    If real-time sharing and collaboration is needed, then Google Docs makes the difference.

    I've implemented Google Apps and played with Zimbra in enterprise-like environments. My conclusion is that hosting your information on someone else's servers doesn't seem that appealing to me. It does work out-of-the-box and is easier and cheaper to maintain, but because of the "leaking" risk, for me it's a no go.

    If you have an IT guy full-time, go for LAMP "on premises" base server system.There are a plethora of reliable open source applications both web based and offline, that can be stacked onto this kind of system into an integrated synergistic manner in order to meet your goals.
  • RE: Can Zimbra compete with Google Apps in education?

    I am a teacher in reputed university.No,Zimbra can never compete Google because Google is updating day by day with respect to educational wbsite.Thanks for sharing of information.