VMware touts smarter cloud-based email with Zimbra 8.0

The latest version of VMware's Zimbra aims to challenge the email market dominated by Microsoft and Google.

VMware is rolling out Zimbra Collaboration Server 8.0, boasted to offer businesses a clearer path for moving email and collaboration apps to the cloud.

Supporting both private and public cloud infrastructures, Zimbra 8.0 is available as a virtual software appliance that is touted to be able to be deployed in as little as 10 minutes with minimal ongoing IT management.

With this launch, VMware is also posing a stronger challenge to the likes of Google and Microsoft, both of which already dominate the cloud-based email market. VMware is doing so by positioning Zimbra as a more comprehensive yet smarter platform for enterprise customers.

Put most simply, Zimbra 8.0 connects users to their personal cloud via a revamped interface and a smart mailbox designed to manage the flow of information through email, calendar, voice and social channels. One example of that smarter inbox is that the system automatically moves bulk or unimportant email out of the inbox to activity streams. There is room for customization and settings adjustment here, but the idea is to streamline email messages without the user even having to think about it.

VMware has also enlisted help from Cisco and Mitel for embedding unified communications features, such as connecting voice and message systems in a unified inbox along with adding voicemail and chat (among other capabilities) to the Zimbra web app.

John Robb, senior director at VMware, explained via telephone earlier this week that the three pillars of this update overall are apps, data, and authentication.

"It's about bringing these three elements into a cloud service so IT can turn around and offer it to an end user," said Robb, adding that the core of this strategy is providing a complete service that offers a new way to work.

Furthermore, Robb posited that many organizations want their services to emulate Software-as-a-Service as much as possible. Thus, whether VMware is providing solutions to IT departments or a service provider, the benchmark is based upon where SaaS is today.

Zimbra 8.0 is available worldwide to download now in beta mode.