VMware unveils next version of Zimbra communications software

Virtualisation giant takes the wraps off its new open source email and collaboration server appliance

VMware looks set to lock horns with Microsoft and Google in the cloud-based email and communications space with the rollout of the next version of its Zimbra server software.

Zimbra, which was acquired by the virtualisation giant in January 2010, makes open source email and collaboration software.

The vendor has taken the wraps off the eighth iteration of the Zimbra Collaboration Server, which is now available for end users to beta test.

The product is a virtual software appliance and features an updated browser-based mailbox interface that allows users to pull in data from social networking sites and voice channels.

VMware has also drawn on its long-standing partnerships with networking giants Cisco and Mitel to embed unified communications features into Zimbra.

These include click-to-call, voicemail, live chat and Cisco WebEx functionality.

John Robb, senior director of VMware, said the product enhancements reflect the changing way that people work.

“Zimbra 8 is designed to make end users more efficient by connecting them with their data while providing IT departments with a simple way to manage the transition to a public or private cloud and help deliver the benefits promised by the post-PC era,” he said.

Laurent Philonenko, vice president of Cisco Unified Communications, added: "Cisco works with innovative partners like VMware to integrate collaboration applications [and deliver] a consistent experience across PCs, Macs, tablets and smart phones."