Now this cloud service is going to be part of VMware's major push of enterprise services to the cloud. Thinking back a decade or so, this reminds us of the power of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, arguably the best pairing and best business franchise in technology history, a $30 billion business today.
This new collaboration allows VMware to offer email, one of the stickiest services in IT, to a vast set of partners. This extends the solution loved by consumers to enterprise users that rely on email. On the competitive front, this move provides a way to unlock enterprises from Microsoft Exchange, perhaps the most entrenched system that Microsoft has with the enterprise customer today.
Exchange has been known as a double-edge sword for many IT shops for years. Yes, it has been the most-used application for nearly a decade, but it has been known as hard to use, scale, and administer. The promise of an integrated inbox that connects to back-office applications (e.g. Word, Powerpoint, Sharepoint) has been a real promise, but has been complicated to deploy. Thus, other solutions such as Zimbra have started to get a leg up in the race for collaboration in the enterprise. By enabling a cloud-based email service, Zimbra is already proving that it can scale its services and management capabilities to take on Microsoft Exchange head-on.
As a gateway to collaboration, email baked into the virtualization and cloud computing offering could significantly change the landscape on how services hook into the enterprise, and provide a new lever to offer an entire suite of cloud-based, virtually hosted systems.
On January 18th, IBM also announced it's bringing its powerful enterprise class LotusLive collaboration tools to the cloud through open APIs. Throwing the power of IBM and the open web into the mix, is it now possible that Lotus could leapfrog Exchange and be cool again?
No small feat indeed, as IBM has seen more than a decade of enterprises ripping out Lotus and replacing with Exchange Server as a central hub. IBM's move is a major signal that they see an opening up of the collaboration suite as the way to bring collaboration to enterprise users, instead of through IT development and customization.
The purchase of Zimbra is a tipping point in moving systems to the cloud that will capture the hearts and minds of developers that are building new services, and IT leaders in the enterprise. The outcome will be more back-end services offered in the cloud, and it is bringing the giants out of their caves to respond and meet Zimbra in the new battlefield.
Below is a snapshot of key feature sets that Zimbra highlights in its comparison to Exchange. What would it take you to switch your enterprise email to the cloud?