The enterprise collaboration market got a bit more competitive today with
the release of the open source Zimbra collaboration and messaging server.
Zimbra, which has been in beta use for over a year has now officially released
its’ flagship product Zimbra Collaboration Suite 3.0 (ZCS) and made it
generally available. Though Zimbra will work from a client point of view on
Microsoft Windows desktops, it is not currently available for Windows
Servers and will not challenge Microsoft Exchange directly on Windows. If an
enterprise is looking to provide additional functionality beyond Exchange or
to migrate to a Linux server though, the Zimbra technology may well be an
Zimbra is a convergence of open source, Web Services and AJAX technologies.
There are two fundamental components to the Zimbra solution, the
collaboration server and the browser based AJAX client which will run on all
Integrated search and anti-spam/anti-virus are core features of ZCS 3.0. RSS
and Atom syndication enables users to not only subscribe to feeds but to
publish their mailbox content whether it be email folders, contacts or
calendar via RSS as well. On the calendaring side of things, ZCS 3.0 can
import or export calendars via the iCal standard.
Web Services integration is also a key part of ZCS 3.0. Baked in
capabilities include the ability to recognize map addresses in emails and pull up the associated map via the Yahoo maps API. Phone
number recognition within ZCS, is integrated with Skype and other VoIP and
softphone services to enable click to call functionality.
At the heart of ZCS’s extensibility and Web Services feature set is
something that Zimbra calls, “Zimlets”. Zimbra defines Zimlets as a
mechanism for integrating the Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) with third
party information systems and content.
Scott Dietzen, president and CTO, Zimbra explained that Zimbra has been in
alpha and beta for more than year with the first customers touching the
technology in late 2004. It started off as mostly messaging no calendaring
and no Zimlets.
“Open source community and customer feedback reinforced the AJAX model and
were instrumental in getting us to support iCal, RSS and Atom, and
especially around Zimlets,” Dietzen told internetnews.com.
Zimlets are a key component of how Zimbra encourages community contributions
and grow its functionality without breaking anything within Zimbra.
“What we’ve tried to accomplish with Zimlet and our AJAX toolkit is to make
it a lot easier for people to develop add-ons that increase Zimbra’s reach
and value without them having to go in and make internal changes,” Dietzen
Being open source has helped Zimbra to grow its technology and its user
base, but it has also been the cause of some limited concern as well.
Dietzen noted that in the beginning Zimbra received a “handful of concerns”
about intellectual property related issues. Zimbra has since moved to allay
end user concerns and provide assurances by sharing its intellectual
property contribution agreement.
“As a result of SCO, enterprises are bit more aware and wanting to check to
make sure that their open source technology providers are doing their
homework to protect IP and make sure they can provide squeaky clean IP,”