Can Zimbra Encroach Upon the Enterprise Messaging Market?

Zimbra is marketing itself as an innovative, cost effective messaging system. Messaging is a springboard by which Zimbra will build 2.0 bridges to business applications.

Zimbra is a powerhouse at marketing and public relations. Each Zimbra "event" (like last week's announcement of its desktop client)  results in a flood of media coverage. Marketing- and public relations-driven perception is a top-down approach to drive "radar" mindshare. Evidence of earnest creditability is the bottom-up approach that drives a sustainable customer base. The bottom-up approach is the more impregnable strategy to develop and implement. The consequence of a weak bottom-up strategy is ultimate failure.

The consensus of the Blogosphere and Internet journalists is that the Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) server, Web client and the  Zimbra desktop client are all goodness.

Bottom-up...

  • Zimbra is sexy. Its Web services architecture aligns with the current excitement over anything "2.0." Its "zimlets" ("hooks" for integrating ZCS with third-party applications) can also be used to create Web-based mash-up user interfaces.
  • Zimbra is open source. Open source has shed its legacy, disparaging image in the enterprise. ZCS comes in two flavors: open source community (Open Source Edition), which is free. Community development feeds the for-fee commercialized version (Network Edition) -- more suited to the enterprise.
  • Zimbra has "cool" features. For example, you can mouse over URLs and certain words, which are linked to other sources of information.  

Innovation for productivity's sake supports a positive bottom-up strategy -- and if the innovation just happens to be fun, so much the better. Though a start-up, Zimbra is not swimming in the same sea as the 2.0 "wannabes."

Back in the "real world," though, the vast majority of businesses spend money on "tried and true" technology -- things that people can understand. To the average business, the "2.0" world is buzz. However, commercially supported open source is on the upswing of gaining respectability. Not surprisingly, then, Zimbra's tagline is "the leader in open source messaging and collaboration."

Last week my ZDNet blogger colleague, Mary Jo Foley, commented on the conclusions of an upcoming Yankee report on Exchange. 

...the real threat to Microsoft Exchange isn't IBM — it's Linux- and open-source-based e-mail servers. ... [Yankee] didn't list which e-mail packages are most interesting to potential Exchange switchers. There are a growing number of Linux/open-source e-mail systems on the market, however, ranging from Scalix to Zimbra.

In the world of "Exchange Killers," open source email/collaboration proponents are leading the latest battle cry. Passion aside, the 155th and last commenter to Mary Jo's blog post said...

Cry as you might these people love Exchange and they're going to keep on using it. No matter how much you'd like them not to.

My questions to you...

  • When deciding upon a new or replacement messaging/collaboration application, would you consider an open source platform?
  • Is Zimbra gaining attention because it is one of the many "Exchange Killers," or because it is a Web 2.0 application?