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10/28/2008
10:52 AM
Gayle Kesten
Gayle Kesten
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Yahoo's Zimbra Joins The Cloud Club

Yahoo's Zimbra is becoming a hosted service provider in its own right, for the first time taking its open-source, Web-based messaging and collaboration application straight to a select customer segment.

Yahoo's Zimbra is becoming a hosted service provider in its own right, for the first time taking its open-source, Web-based messaging and collaboration application straight to a select customer segment.Zimbra's market of choice: universities, which still have the option to host the software on their own or through third parties; the majority of the 500 educational institutions already using Zimbra's software have it on-premises, according to the company, which runs 20 million mailboxes for such schools as Stanford University, Georgia Tech, Northeastern, Texas A&M and Mississippi State. "With the new Zimbra Hosted, we have removed the challenge of managing thousands of mailboxes and encouraged schools to rebrand Zimbra as their own, creating a communications portal that connects all key audiences," said Satish Dharmaraj, Zimbra co-founder and Yahoo! vice president, in a statement.

Zimbra's software suite comprises e-mail, shared calendars, online documents authoring, instant messaging, and mobility. Reports PCWorld, Zimbra is offering a free version of its hosted offering to students and alumni (that is, with advertising), which includes the Zimbra Desktop component for working without an Internet connection, open APIs for IT system customization and integration, and disaster recovery backups. An advertising-less version costs $2 per user per year, and also includes synchronization capabilities for iPhones, 99.9 percent uptime guarantee, and phone support. For faculty, Zimbra Hosted cost $35 per year per mailbox and includes other features like synchronization with Outlook and BlackBerry devices.

Though Zimbra Hosted isn't an option for smaller businesses, that could be just around the corner. Though short on details, Zimbra marketing VP John Robb told VentureBeat that this is Zimbra's first move in the direction of hosting its own services and that the strategy was part of the bigger picture when it was acquired by Yahoo for $350 million-plus more than a year ago.

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