Since VMWare (news, site) bought Zimbra from Yahoo last year, many have been wondering what the company wanted with an enterprise email, collaboration, and calendaring platform. The release of Zimbra 7 this week puts that in perspective and shows a company that is chasing after a larger part of the enterprise collaboration market.

While it may not be immediately obvious how Zimbra would fit into VMWare’s portfolio of cloud infrastructure and virtualization products, in the current climate where even end users are buzzing about the cloud, Zimbra 7 offers a more hands-on product for end users – as opposed to IT departments.

Zimbra 7 Platform

Zimbra 7 now provides a suite of next generation email and collaboration software with new data sharing capabilities, advanced calendaring and enhanced search as well as administration and management tools.

The combined product is downloadable as Zimbra Collaboration Server 7 (formerly Zimbra Collaboration Suite) along with beta versions of VMware Zimbra Desktop 7 and VMware Zimbra Appliance, which VMWare says will “free users and IT from more than two decades of complex, device-centric computing.”

Even if it only does that, it will be a hit, but the company says that running in parallel to this is a move toward providing user-focused cloud computing in the context of sharing things rather than sending things.

‘Sharing, Not Sending’

We say that because, according to VMWare, the rise of social media has resulted in a profound shift that looks set to challenge email dominance, even if some dispute that this is the case.

The impact of social media along with a new generation of increasingly mobile workers creates new demands on collaboration platforms. The concept of ‘sharing more and sending less’ becomes a key capability that enterprises should consider as they look to arm their workforce with the essentials of everyday business communications,” said Erin K. Traudt, research director at IDC.

VMWare is using Zimbra to cover the dual functions of emailing and collaboration to ensure it hasn't missed any of the bases here. Zimbra, according to VMWare, is the fastest-growing enterprise collaboration solution on the market at the moment, with more than 66 million paid mailboxes and more than 200,000 customer organizations.

New Features

So what else has VMWare added? New capabilities include:

  • Briefcase: Access to Zimbra’s Briefcase functionality, which allows users to share or store files in the cloud more easily
  • Communicating: With People Search, users have access to contact lists, and enterprise location charts that make it easier to find contacts in the web client.
  • Administrator: Improved administration with role-based delegation at multiple administrator levels enabling them to set email parameters
  • Mobile: Zimbra mobile supports native app sync, HTML formatted emails and automatic synchronization of email tags and flags; it offers access to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0 to customers via the VMware Zimbra Connector for BlackBerry 7.0

Needless to say, a whole list of other elements comes with this, but they all aim to provide better worker experience and efficiencies.

VMware Zimbra Collaboration Server 7 and the beta versions of VMware Zimbra Desktop 7 and VMware Zimbra Appliance 7 are available for download on its website.