Virtualization/cloud computing provider VMware is releasing the latest upgrade of its Zimbra Collaboration Server, a personal cloud interface with integrated communications capabilities. Among the new features in version 8.0 is unified communications (UC) functionality delivered through partnership with Cisco and Mitel.

Communication Simplified

Zimbra’s UC capabilities enable users to connect Click2Call, telepresence, chat, email and other forms of messaging in a unified inbox. Thus users can have access to all these messaging solutions from the Zimbra Web app. In addition, Zimbra is integrated with Cisco WebEx and offers integrated search, calendaring, auto-filtering and distribution list functions.

In a phone interview with CMSWire, John Robb, Senior Director of Collaborative R&D for VMware, expanded on some of Zimbra 8.0’s most interesting new features. “The end user has more tools to self-service their own account,” he said. “They can decide what files to delete, what mailing distribution lists to join, and a smarter inbox.”

More specifically, Zimbra 8.0’s “smarter inbox” learns from user behavior, meaning features such as filtering evolve to reflect what messages users tend to open and respond to. Robb said Zimbra 8.0 is designed to allow users to manage IT as a service in the cloud computing era. “We make software easier to implement and manage by emulating SaaS independent of where the software runs,” stated Robb.

VMware Takes Social Approach

VMware bought the Zimbra product from Yahoo in 2010, with industry observers wondering what VMware would do an enterprise email, collaboration and calendaring platform. VMware answered that question with the release of Zimbra Collaboration Server 7.0 in February 2011, 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. At the time, Erin K. Traudt, research director at IDC, said, “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.”

And indeed Zimbra is continuing to evolve as a communication tool that bring social media collaboration capabilities to old-fashioned “sending” tools such as email. Earlier this year, VMware released Zimbra Collaboration 7.2, with upgrades mainly aimed at government users, and now continues to evolve Zimbra in response to the increasing importance of social media as a business communication tool. This social emphasis can also be seen in recent VMware activity such as offering fully functional free versions of its Socialcast enterprise social networks for up to 50 users.

Zimbra Collaboration Server 8.0 is currently available for beta download in private or public clouds.