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Microsoft Exchange Faces Challenge From VMware-Zimbra Deal


This is going to interest sysadmins the most, but it's also a surprise blow against Microsoft: Virtualization experts VMware have just bought out Zimbra, who make collaboration software. The target is clearly MS Exchange.

Zimbra, makers of the Zimbra Collaboration Suite for Mac OS X and Linux, was just bought by VMware yesterday from its previous owner Yahoo. Yahoo acquired it for some $350 million back in 2007, when the company was trying to expand its operations into the business services that's no longer a core Yahoo intention, Zimbra was disposable.

And that's let VMware scoop up what may be an extremely useful tool. The ZCS capabilities as an email server and corporate shared calendar system are actually more useful than Microsoft's own Exchange, according to some commentators. And the company's quietly been growing its client portfolio for years—boosting its mailbox count by 86% last year alone, which is a clear sign it's offering services that companies of all sizes are interested in buying. Zimbra's also a bit more than that, according to VMware's VP and general manager of Cloud Services Brian Byun: It's a "great example" of what he calls "scalable 'cloud era' solutions" that can connect an on-premises computer network to the cloud.

It's that word "scalable" that's key: Once ZCS is integrated into VMware's offerings, a client company will be able to buy a VMware virtualization package to expand its computer network powers, and also layer corporate email and collaborative calendars on the top. And then the network will easily grow as the company itself grows, thanks to the flexible workings of a cloud-based system—a capability that companies like Amazon, IBM and AT&T are already spinning when promoting their own cloud-based enterprise solutions. That's why this is definitely going to get MS Exchange execs sitting up and paying attention.

[Via The New York Times]