Zimbra (recently purchased by Yahoo) is a direct competitor to Outlook-Exchange's dominance of the email, calendaring market, but the Zimbra Collaboration Suite provides more than email and calendar, so it really warrants their 'collaboration suite' description. Collaboration is supported by these additional application capabilities: web documents (wiki), RSS, mobility support, search, group sharing and VOIP.

The Zimbra business model, like Afresco’s, is open-source, which provides tranparency, extensibility and a community of developers and users.

Zimbra's commercial service offerings include phone and web support as well a range of client-side options that include Windows, Apple and mobile alternatives. For example, Zimbra offers a 'Zimbra Desktop' client for those not using Outlook who want to be able to keep working when offline. The client supports: write email, add appointments, edit documents. When a user re-connects, all changes are automatically synced to the Zimbra Server.

Zimbra has many major organizations as customers and, although fairly new (2006), they seem to be well on their way. One caution: the Zimbra-developed clients may not be fully cooked yet - while we have not personally experienced this, we've read of performance issues in that area. However, this situation is likely changing.

There is a good chance that, if facing significant licensing costs for Outlook-Exchange, you may find Zimbra features and economics an attractive value. 

Pricing for Zimbra products : Zimbra Server is open-source and free for browser-only access to mail, calendar,  contacts, tasks, etc. Zimbra's commercial products support a solid set of client interfaces (Outlook/MAPI, Apple i-synch, Blackberry, POP/IMAP) and include both web and phone tech support. Cost ranges from $18 to $35 per e-mailbox per year. Licenses are sold in blocks of 25.


Specific Functionality

Browser Based or Outlook Client

E-mail

Calendar

Access Control

Workspace

File Repository

Discussions

Search

Additional Information

Additional detals we believe important ....

The Zimbra Collaboration Suite also includes "Zimlets," what might be thought of as an API. In Web 2.0 terminology Zimlets enable mashups. They can provide effective means for organizations to integrate their existing information systems’ data / content into team collaborative environments. Some examples from Zimbra website

  • Mouse-over a name or email address, and see what's in your address book for that person;
  • Mouse-over a customer email address or case tracking number, and see its status;
  • Mouse-over a part number to check inventory;
  • Mouse-over an Internet order, and see its shipping status; and so on.
  • Right click on a date to schedule a meeting;
  • Right click on a part number to place an order for more inventory;
  • Right click on a purchase order, or other workflow request to approve or reject it.

Another information integration capability enabled by Zimlets is to add Zimbra-sourced content to web and other IS content: e.g., e-mail message content can be linked to pages on intranets or the Internet.

After the link is created, a reader’s "Mousing" over the web-based content presents the email message, or a real time view (subject to security constraints) of dynamic data. We believe these sorts of capabilities will support more effective team collaboration, improve decision making, etc. The Zimbra teams seems to really “get” the possibilities for team collaboration tools.