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Zimbra (Messaging and Collaboration)

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Mon, 8 Dec 2008 20:53:56 -0300 (CLST)

For some reason I can't remember (perhaps to spite Google, who have move
me from the second hit for "andrew cooke" to page three or four) I started
poking around Yahoo to see just what services they provided (ah - I do
remember - I had just read a news item saying how they were developing way
too many different products).

Anyway, as a consequence, I stumbled across Zimbra.  At first I found it a
little confusing, so my hope is that the following will help clarify
exactly what all the different bits are (although, full disclosure, I am
guessing at some bits still).

In very broad terms Zimbra is one of those enterprisey things like IBM's
Lotus Domino/Notes.  It provides email for everyone in a company.  More
than that, it lets users manage and share information - diary
appointments, files, address books etc etc.

So Zimbra is a glorified email server.  With a chat server.  And a diary
application.  And a web server for sharing documents.

Some of the particularly neat parts seem to be:
- the webmail aspect is very impressive (to the point where you forget
it's a web page at all - apparently better than gmail...)
- the mail server will integrate many different sources (including imap
and pop3)
- there's support for offline mail reading


OK, so that's the basics, and really not that confusing.  What threw me is
that there are so many different ways to use it:

- You can pay for the server software (since the client is web based that
gets you the whole system).  This is the basic, traditional, obvious way
to use the system.

- You can download the server software for free.  This is the open source
take.  It seems to have a lot of functionality, but not everything in the
pay-for version - http://www.zimbra.com/products/product_editions.html

- Zimbra will host the server for you (paid), if you're an EDU.  This is
the "cloud" version, I guess?

- You can download a Zimbra client.  This is a standalone mail program.


It was the last of these that threw me; perhaps because that's where I
started (and so assumed it was the important bit).  In fact (and this is
the guessing bit) I now think this is just a mash-up that basically
installs a local mini-server.  The client is, in fact, Mozilla (XUL) and I
guess that it's running pretty much the client software you would get in
the full version (if that is the case; and I am pretty sure it is; then it
is indeed more impressive than GMail).

I also downloaded the open source server, once I understood better what
was happening, with the intention of trying it out.  However, it needs a
dedicated machine (or at least one that isn't already running servers for
IMAP, SMTP, SQL, etc).

Finally, some links:
http://www.zimbra.com/ - main site
http://www.zimbra.com/demos/zimbra_overview.html - a not very good intro
http://www.zimbra.com/community/ - open source
http://www.zimbra.com/products/hosted_demo.php - a demo

Andrew

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