Zimbra Office: now this is something for Microsoft to worry about.

Zimbra Office: now this is something for Microsoft to worry about.

Summary: Dan Farber provides a look at the next step in the evolution of the Zimbra Office which features two "notebook" apps - a document processor and a spreadhseet. More than anything Google is doing, this is what Microsoft needs to fear - a disruptive player coming out of nowhere.

TOPICS: Microsoft

Last week, Dan Farber provided a look at the next step in the evolution of the Zimbra Office which features two "notebook" apps - a document processor and a spreadhseet and a new approach to sharing data between web-based applications called ALE (AJAX Linking Embedding). More than anything Google or the all-software-should-be-free contingent is doing, this is what Microsoft needs to fear - a disruptive player coming out of nowhere, delivering solid usability in a well-designed interface that takes on a cash cow (in this case Exchange Server).


Exchange is an expensive proposition. Zimbra is not - an open source version is available as are a Network Edition that adds value and support for a fee and third-party hosted versions. This project has ramped up quickly, has solid financial backing, and seems to have a long view strategy in place that is being executed with deliberate intent. That should raise a few eyebrows in Redmond.

UPDATE: Richard MacManus has posted an in-depth walkthrough of Zimbra that shows off some of the very nice features this alternative provides.


Topic: Microsoft

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  • Heads Up

    Or duck as the case may be...
    Flying Chair Alert!
    D T Schmitz
    • Thanks - my radar is on

      Dietrich: Thanks for watching my back. I sitched on the flying office furniture early detection system before I hit the Post button ;^)
    • Chair

      Seems like the Slashdot M$ humour crowd check out this site too.
  • Support costs

    Zimbra is new to me. I decided to take a look. I found the following quite..."interesting"?

    The quoted text below is from the Zimbra Office web site...

    "The Small Business Edition includes upgrades and the following Basic Support plan:

    Access to the Network Edition-only knowledge base
    Access to Zimbra support services portal
    Enhanced Support can be purchased for $1000 and includes three support incident requests via e-mail or phone. This includes 7X24 crisis support. Additionally, customers can buy a single support incident for $400"

    To me and probably others, live support @ $400/single incident is a great way to keep me FAR away from Zimbra Office.

    But that's just my opinion.
    • Welcome to the World of the Third Party Vendor!

      You know, at that price, it is actually almost cheaper to buy an MSDN subscription, get Exchange with it, and also get support through that. Of course, the MSDN subscription is for development only, but still.

      $400 per incident, or $1,000 for three? That is just rediculous.

      Justin James
    • Not to far off

      Microsoft used to charge $345 per incident for Exchange. This was on top of the $1000 (minimum) price tag for the software itself.

      Maybe it's worth a look. I'm certainly not going to hold my breath though in hopes of this being the next Microsoft killer!?
      • User worries on pricing of support

        I think that there may be the worry in the mind of the user, that they spend time to make the support nice and clear, and that the support guru takes about 5 mins to solve it, and then KERRCHING!$!

        Sure everyone has to make a living, but I feel that the structure of the pricing is a bit offputting.

        Mind you, there might also be the concern that if the support was at an hourly rate, that someone might be a bit slow to do it!!
  • Open source "Exchange Killer"! News at 11!

    Yeah, woopee. Wasn't Scallix supposed to be an open source Exchange killer too? And then Steve Ballmer forbade his kids from emailing anyone who had an email host that used Scallix, so no one wants to install it.

    In all seriousness, the cost of Exchange is pretty low. Anything that is going to imitate it feature-by-feature is going to scale about as well as Exchange. So why not just get the real deal? I suppose that if you are in an all UNIX shop this makes sense. But in this day and age, most companies have at least a few Windows servers, if for nothing else than basic network drives and printer connectivity.

    If you really think that Microsoft is scared of these guys, you're dreaming. Of all of the supposed Microsoft killers out there that I have seen over the years (15 years of watching IT and counting), here is what I have seen actually take significant market share from Microsoft:

    * Firefox
    * Linux (and most of its market share is coming from Sun, IBM, and other UNIX vendors, not Microsoft)

    And that's it!

    Let's look at the list of "Microsoft Killers":

    * MySQL (gets market share predominently from Oracle, not SQL Server)
    * Java (not often used for desktop apps, tug-of-war with .Net on the Web backend, and constantly watching out for the LAMP stack)
    * OpenOffice (only took market share from Office in a few places)
    * Mac OSX (Apple market share has barely moved, except for down)
    * Google (Microsoft was always #3, Google mostly tore up whoever #1 and #2 was until they became #1)
    * Eclipse (it really does not overlap Visual Studio's marketplace much)
    * Novell when Novell changed business plans "for the last time" (how many times has this happened? Like 300?)

    And so on and so on.

    I'll beleive we have an actual "Microsoft Whatever Killer" when I see Microsoft's market share drop 10% or more.

    When a cheerleader tries to fire up a crowd when their team is down by three touchdowns by the end of the first quarter, the smile seems a little forced and false to me.

    Justin James
    • Don't forget Apache. eom

      • Did *not* forget Apache

        The reason why I didn't list Apache (or a number of other OSS projects, for that matter), is that they cannot be "Microsoft Killers"... they were there FIRST and Microsoft is attempting to take market share away. Apache is a great example of that. Microsoft was years late and short a donut or two when it came to the web server market. Microsoft has been attempting to play catch up ever since, not as successfully as they would like. Web browsers, on the other hand... Microsoft knocked Netscape out for the count, and dominated the market for years. Even with Firefox's 20% - 25% market share (which is quite impressive), it is still Microsoft's market to lose. Now, if Microsoft were to bump Apache to a 10% or even 20% market share (nearly impossible), then Apache could become a "Microsoft Killer". :)

        Justin James
    • A few other things

      You forgot a few small unimportant thing like

      IBM UDB (runs most of the worlds banks)

      Latest installs here are
      1 Windows/2003 server
      2 UNIX servers bigtime stuff with Oracle 10G
      2 UNIX smaller servers with Oracle 10G
      4 RedHat enterprise servers (with MySQL)
      One company changed from Office/XP to StarOffice
      One Company changed from Exchange/Outlook to Domino/Notes
      At the same time we have removed 5 Windows servers - so far.

      See the trend ?
      • These are know threats

        Oracle, IBM, and Lotus Notes are known threats that Microsoft has beeen deaing with for a long time. They know how to compete against these similar propositions and generaly do pretty well when going head-to-head with them. Sure, sometimes they lose. The point is, it's a well-understood game they've played for a long time.

        Your company's numbers are in the noise - sorry if that sounds harsh but you're an abberation and a small deal. One company does not a trend make. Trust me. Yesterday, Microsoft closed a new deal somewhere in the world that replaced what they've lost from your company. They do it every day. 5 Windows servers?They probably do that hourly, many times over.

        No... my point was that Zimbra represents a very different threat - one that Microsoft has not yet proved it knows how to counter (although they are trying with their Live offerings). For all of Ballmer's bluster about how IBM is Microsoft's principal threat (which I'm sure ticked off Larry big time), it's something disruptive that MS should be most afraid of.
  • We are trialing Zimbra now.

    I have both the commercial trial version and the OSS version
    running as a trial. Why? Because we are seriously considering
    switching to Zimbra.

    One of our biggest headaches is groupware for the Mac OS X
    platform. We are 85% Apple/13% PC/2% Linux. Up until now I
    have not found a decent groupware for cross platform. This may
    be it.

    Since we also run Asterisk, the Asterisk Zimlet is very interesting
    too. It would be nice to have a click to dial directory.
    • that's interesting, we are thinking of the same

      That's interesting, we have been thinking of the same, might you blog your results?

      We have started using Asterisk (although we want to use it for a telecoms product), but that seems like a very interesting combination.
    • Cross-platform solution

      If you're looking for cross-platform groupware try http://
      www.solve360.com Functionally it has everything Zimbra does, but
      ditches the 20th century on-premise server model in favor of SaaS
  • Been driving on PCH in CA?


    Been driving any Ferrari's lately???

  • I know this sounds wrong, but it won't kill MS if it don't run on MS

    If the majority of people run MS, (and they do)and they never get to see or use Zimbra except if and when their IT dep't gets it running, how is it ever going to kill Microsoft? It may take a few IT dep'ts, knock off an exchange server or two (or hundreds), but people are still locked into Windows as an OS, because that is what they get at Walmart, it is usually what they run at home, and it is easier/cheaper than the alternatives of Linux or OSX. And it may take MS a few years, but if Zimbra has better features than Exchange, MS will get them incorporated into the next version, which means that people will still be running MS. And the price issue is not big enough, the support worries and costs alone will scare a lot of non-tech folks away from it. Unless your IT guy can really sell Zimbra and his own ability to make it work, most bean counters and decision makers will have a hard time buying it, even for free.
    • It's not just the server cost - it's the CAL cost

      What I think you and couple of other commenters are not factoring into the equation are the Client Access Licenses (CAL) costs for Exchange. That's one of the major factors that has prevented my company from adopting Exchange and is a big reason why we're looking at Zimbra as a less expensive alternative.

      Exchange gets pretty expensive, because of the CALs, for SMB organizations like mine in the 30-50 seat range. Zimbra has no CAL component.

      I'm not arguing for an Outlook-less workflow necessarily. Zimbra supports Outlook (and other PC-based e-mail clients), as well as its AJAX web-based client. You lose some functionality provided in the web client if you use Outlook but it supported. SO the only OS issue is the server and running a *NIX box as a mail server is something many IT people are quite comfortable with.