Zimbra Expands Its Reach

by Amy Newman

Zimbra announced two major partnerships that will bring its Zimbra Collaboration Suite to customers through very different channels. It has inked deals with open source Red Hat and cable provider Comcast.

It's been a busy week for Zimbra.

On Monday, the open source messaging vendor announced it had partnered with Comcast and its messaging server to be part of the SmartZone communications center the cable company unveiled.

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A Zimbra spokesperson described Smartzone as "a horizontal offering for a horizontal set of customers."

"From one central dashboard, [users] will now be able to manage all of their communications needs as well as customize their experience," said Greg Butz, senior vice president, Product Development for Comcast in a publicly released statement describing the offering.

In other words, SmartZone will enable Comcast customers to send and receive e-mail, check voice mail, send instant messages and manage an address book from one central location in text, voice and video format. To achieve this, Comcast is partnering with a number of technology companies. Zimbra is one of these.

Other companies involved in Smartzone are HP and Plaxo.

Details on Zimbra's role are still sketchy, as Smartzone is still being fleshed out. Initially, Zimbra Communication Suite will provide the e-mail back end. It has already been integrated with Plaxo's Smart Address Book (which synchronizes with and is accessible from a wide range of tools, services and Web-enabled devices) and the visual voice mail system (where users can listen to voice mail online and forward messages via e-mail).

Down the road, Zimbra's AJAX-based front end may also have a role on the client side, according to Zimbra.

SmartZone is scheduled to begin rolling out later this year. When it goes live, it will service Comcast's 12 million customers, who will be able to access the message center via Comcast. net.

Plaxo will provide the "smart" address book functionality, providing users with a single, self-updating address book they can use with various communication tools, services and mobile devices.

HP's role is to lead the implementation. It will thus be responsible for designing, building and managing the resources that make up the communications center.

Although this is Zimbra's first partnership with a U.S. based ISP, it has previously inked deals with ISPs in India and Brazil.

Later in the week, on Thursday, Zimbra that announced Zimbra Collaboration Suite, will be available for purchase via the recently announced Red Hat Exchange, the Linux vendor's sales channel designed to help customers compare, buy, and manage open source business applications from a central spot.

Zimbra Collaboration Suite was previously certified to run on Red Hat. It also runs on Mac OS X and SUSE Linux.

This article was originally published on Friday May 11th 2007
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