Zimbra Open-Source Collaboration Suite

September 14, 2005 in 3 out of 5 stars, A piece of software, Free, Hosted "Office", Hosted software, Productivity

What is it?

Zimbra Open-Source Collaboration Suite: Previously known as Liquid Systems, Zimbra is the new name of the company, as well as its flagship product: an extensible open-source client/server system for managing email, contacts, and calendaring that can be accessed with either a slick, cross-browser, AJAX-powered user interface, or via desktop applications like Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird/Sunbird, Apple Mail/iCal, and others. The server that powers all this, Zimbra Collaboration Server, is written in Java, and sits upon familiar open source components like a MySQL database, a Postfix Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) (with SpamAssassin and ClamAV for anti-spam and anti-virus by default) and a Tomcat Web Application Server. Has some other very cool features like message tagging, dynamic search folders, 3rd party tools integration. Be sure to check out the Flash demo and then try the live demo yourself to see the power of this tool.


Who makes it?


Why is it the killerest?

It's like someone put Gmail, Outlook, Mail.app, iCalendar in a blender, and whipped up an application that runs in the browser. If you need a calendaring, mail, and contact management system and don't want to drop the cash on Outlook, give Zimbra a try for free.

What could be improved?

Well, it's not a hosted application, so it requires a Linux technician to install it, configure it and get it working on your end. This may be out of reach for many potential clients (and it's a shame). But the cost of having a technician set up and maintain this, for a small business may be a huge cost savings over other office productivity applications with which it competes.

How much does it cost?

Free, but it wouldn't be free to setup (technician's time, and the hardward to host it).


Reviewed by Brian Sweeting

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This software looks great, but I'm a little confused by the company's business model. How do they make money? I don't even see a link to Donate money, like most open source projects.

I see that they are looking to hire sales reps, but if the download is free, what else is there to sell? A commercial version? Support?

Posted by: Gil | Sep 15, 2005 3:03:13 AM

Actuatlly that's a great question Gil, and one I forgot to interject into the review. I have the very same question. I sent them an email a few days ago asking that very thing, and have yet to hear back from them.

Posted by: Carson McComas | Sep 15, 2005 7:12:22 AM

BTW: The other questions I had for them (which they haven't answered) were --

Can it take replace Outlook wholesale? Meaning: can it take my Outlook .pst file and do the rest?

How good is it at blocking spam.

Posted by: Carson McComas | Sep 15, 2005 7:19:45 AM

I finally got a response from Zimbra, this clears up many of our questions.

**How good is it at blocking spam?

Zimbra leverages Spam Assassin and ClamAV which are two leading open source anti-spam and anti-virus technologies. Additionally, we have integrated these into Postfix which is the MTA that is embedded in Zimbra. Spam Assassin is very well liked and used by many large companies. I was recently meeting with a company that is using it to manage the spam to over 100,000 users. Spam Assassin requires configuration but it is very effective.

**Is this something one installs on their desktop machine?

Zimbra is a combination of a server and a client. The client usually will run on the server and manage the e-mail, calendar and contacts for all users. Each user will then use their desktop PC to access their messaging via a browser or an IMAP, iCal or POP client. If the user uses their browser, all of our software will run in the browser and their is not client side software installation.

**Does it have to be hosted?

No. The software can be offered by a hosting provider or by an enterprise or education institution to users.

**Do I have to be a Linux weenie to figure it out?

In order to run the server you will need to have a good understanding of running an application in a Linux environment. Most people can get our server up and running pretty easily but it is good to have experience in running a Linux application. We have invested a lot of time building our administrator user interface so hopefully we will minimize the knowledge of the Linux environment going forward.

**What's your revenue model?

We will soon be releasing a Zimbra Network version that will provide support for the product. Right now we have release the Beta version for people to test and provide feedback.

**Can I use it to replace Outlook? And by that I mean, can it take my .pst file and do the rest?

Yes. You can drag your messages from your Outlook file into folders that you create using our IMAP. I have done this myself and it works but it is slow. For example, it took 20 minutes for 9000 messages with a total size of 100 MB for me to migrate. You can migrate your contacts via exporting and importing a CSV.

Going forward, we are working on a Outlook migration tool that will more seamlessly and quickly import a PST file into our system. We appreciate your patience and we are moving as fast as we can.

Posted by: Carson McComas | Sep 15, 2005 3:00:51 PM

FYI, they are also working with ASPs to provide hosted Zimbra offerings.

Posted by: anonymous | Nov 14, 2005 7:56:14 AM

We have free Zimbra hosted trial accounts and hosting for Zimbra as well.


Posted by: Daniel Bath | May 18, 2006 5:28:27 PM

Hi all! Free Zimbra trial accounts are also available through OnDeckTech - a certified Zimbra Hosting Partner:


Posted by: Jay Cihla | Oct 3, 2006 9:58:42 PM

I'm going to chime in with a "me too" comment and let everybody know that they can also check out Free Hosted Zimbra Trial accounts at http://www.mxtoolbox.com/landing/freetrial.html


Posted by: Joel Harvey | Mar 22, 2007 2:54:16 PM

Trinsic Technologies has been providing Zimbra hosting to clients for years.
Bottom line, it's a great product and more and more organizations, large and small, are finding out about the benefits of having a true enterprise collaboration suite which let's their employee workhapp(ier)!

We provide:
- Free Zimbra trial accounts
- Affordable prices
- FANATICAL Customer Support
- Very large attachment sizes
- Free Anti-Spam Anti-Virus filtering of emails
- On-demand Email Encryption for data privacy at super low rates
- A talented team to make sure your emails hum

Feel free to give us a call..
And ask for me, Art

Posted by: Art Powell | May 4, 2012 9:23:15 PM

Zimbra provides better security and controls to the administrators. Great post. I'll try using it to my multiple email accounts in a single window.

Posted by: chapter 13 | Sep 10, 2012 7:40:38 AM