Sometimes it seems that the only email products available are powered by either Microsoft or Google, giving businesses the old “Coke vs Pepsi” choice. If you think about it, it is hard to name another cola besides the two main stakes and the same can be said for email services. This blog will focus on the email market and discuss a valuable alternative, Zimbra.
For many years, businesses hosted their own email services by running Exchange on their own servers. Corporate Email is a critical application and provides the main communication avenue for businesses. Understanding email is a critical application, many IT Managers have either moved their Exchange servers to Data Centers or outsourced the service to email hosting partners that could deliver the service from critical facilities, guaranteeing optimal uptime.
Although Exchange still exists and it is still widely in production, Microsoft clearly wants to move towards a 100% Cloud based solution. Google, of course, is already 100% Cloud based and will never go back in time and release a client server/On-Premise solution for their product. For the most part, email is now a Cloud-based SaaS (software as a Service) solution that is subscribed to monthly.
What is Zimbra
Zimbra is an open-source Email platform that was originally developed by a small team out of out of Santa Cruz in 2005. The name Zimbra is actually taken from the song “Zimbra” by the Talking Heads. The concept was to offer a full collaboration suite that can be hosted on-premise as an alternative to Exchange (this was long before the time of G Suite and O365). The two main releases were a completely open source edition, as well as a Premium edition which included enterprise features vendor support. One of the major selling points is that it integrated with popular email clients like Outlook so well, that admins could replace exchange with a more affordable alternative without much disruption to end users.
It didn’t take long for this product to take off, as it was being used within development communities all across the globe. After just a couple years, Yahoo purchased the technology to help power their free email platform and still uses it today. In 2010, Yahoo sold the technology to VMWare, as they believed they could incorporate this technology into their enterprise solutions and compete with Microsoft for their valuable email business. Things didn’t go according to plan and Zimbra was put on the market once again. Today, it is owned by Buffalo based company Synacore.
Many people don’t know much about Zimbra, even though it is used globally by over 100 Million people. There are many service providers with hundreds of thousands of users that leverage the technology to deliver it as a braded/white labeled email service. It is particularly effective at scale, so it is being widely adopted by nations and large institutions globally.
Zimbra is commonly an underlying technology used to deliver email solutions. The main reason for this is that it simply works very well. However, the open integrations called Zimlets add tremendous value as well. Zimlets are basically plug-ins developed by the community that facilitate integrations into third party vendors (mainly SaaS companies), that deliver features such as file storage and customer contacts. From a single Zimbra interface, users can access files from DropBox and reference data in Salesforce. This helps with functionality and user efficiency, while also streamlining operations and aiding security/compliance requirements.
Even though Zimbra works with all major email clients, it still has a very intuitive web interface. For businesses that are looking to go 100% SaaS, this can help cut down on additional installed software on the computer. With this model, a single sign-on can be implemented and can span all operating systems.
Security is also a major consideration as Outlook is often the catalyst for malicious attacks. If you go 100% web-based, you no longer need to worry about another piece of software aiding a vulnerability. The Zimbra web interface looks and operates remarkably similar to an Outlook client, making the transition easier for people who have specific preferences.
‘Drag and Drop’ functionality works perfect within the Zimbra portal, as does Uploading and sharing documents with a software client. Preferences allow you to move conversations into new windows and preview attachments. Users will have the ability to set up and manage their own preferences within their own system including colors, skins and conversation panes.
Zimbra works seamlessly with Outlook, even the calendar system is flawless. The same goes for all the major Android and iOS clients for smart phones. The following protocols are supported for syncing Zimbra Server: POP3, IMAP, and Active Sync. Linux lovers can also use tools of preference such as Thunderbird etc.
Without a doubt all big tech is collecting user data – both consumer and business. They ensure data privacy, but that does not necessarily mean that they do not use the data for other reasons either today or in the future. Because they run the applications from their own infrastructure, they can have as much access to it as they want to it.
One advantage to having an old school Exchange server on-premise, is you can maintain full control of your data. With Microsoft and Google, there are no guarantees to your privacy. Zimbra can be self-hosted or subscribed – but either way, you won’t be dealing with Big Tech leveraging user data for their benefit.
Mindcentric’s Partnership with Zimbra
Mindcentric has partnered with Zimbra for over 10 years and it has grown to be a significant part of our business. We maintain a Gold Level partnership, just one of 2 providers in North America with that coveted status. Today, we host enterprise business, State and Local government and Tech start-ups – covering over 20,000 endpoints.
Mindcentric provides Zimbra as a fully hosted and supported SaaS solution. Clients have the option to implement dedicated server/network environments or simply run out of our Zimbra Cloud. We run the enterprise monitoring and security across our infrastructure which is hosted from Switch Data Centers in Las Vegas (primary location) and Reno (secondary location). As a service, we deliver the following features to accompany the email service:
- Self Service Admin Portal - you manage users within your own environment.
- Email Archiving and Discovery System
- Email SPAM Filtering System
- Data Protection and Recovery
Mindcentric provides boutique support to all Zimbra Clients 24x7x365. As an email vendor, our clients call us for all problems, both simple and complex. Support from big vendors is almost impossible, and you are much better off working with a partner that will know how to troubleshoot your issue. With Mindcentric and Zimbra, you can get straight to the source fast.
A fully managed and hosted Zimbra Professional Email service will cost users $3-5/unique user (aliases and groups have no fees), depending on payment schedule and scale. Larger clients may run the system on a dedicated environment, to which an additional fee may apply.
Mindcentric is a full-service Managed Service Provider (MSP) with our main operations in northern San Diego county. Our core business focus is building and managing enterprise infrastructure. Zimbra email services are a major business segment for us, but we can also help with the following:
- Private/Hybrid/Cloud Computing
- Cyber Security and Compliance
- User Helpdesk
- System Management
- Virtual Desktops
Mindcentric works with businesses of all sizes to deliver solutions that meet their precise needs. We are solely focused on finding solutions that address business needs. We partner with a variety of technology vendors, including Microsoft and Google. Today we have over 300 clients, 15+ Dedicated Engineers and 2 Enterprise Data Centers.