Thursday, October 06, 2005

I Zimbra!

Lots of chatter about the launch of Zimbra, formerly Liquid Systems, just lately. There's plenty to like about the company. The principals are good people and plenty smart, they're working on a very important problem -- client-neutral, shared calendar and email support -- and they named their company after a Talking Heads song from the best album of 1979.

Most of what I do every day is driven by my on-line calendar and email. I'm constantly frustrated at the difficulty of working with other people and sharing information. The people I work with use lots of different platforms -- Windows, MacOS, Linux, BSD variants -- with lots of different client software. It ought to be easy for us to share calendars and schedule meetings, or to get to our email over the Web. It's not. In fact, just this week we had a mail server failure at the office that shut us down for half a day. Scary stuff when you rely on email as much as we do.

So I want Zimbra in the worst way.

I've taken the test drive. The Ajax client is responsive. Google Maps really taught the world a new way to build thin-client apps, and Zimbra's learned the lesson well. The UI is well-designed and intuitive.

As much as I like the company and product, though, the software needs some work before we'll be able to replace our current systems with it. The main problem is that it is missing the critical shared calendar features that we need. Right now, you can't share calendars with other users and you can't synchronize your calendar with your PDA. That's my worst problem with our current systems, and until there's a good client-neutral solution, the pain of switching from the devil we know is just too high.

I'm sure that the Zimbrainians will have this stuff working soon. Their forum posts say they're already working on the features. I'm looking forward to my next test drive.


Blogger Scott Dietzen said...

We Zimbrians appreciate the kind words.

Secure calendar sharing (which we're calling delegated access to calendars) is slated for the 1.0 Zimbra release that will ship in early November.

PDA synchronization is, of course, also on the roadmap, but will depend on device. Today, I'm syncing my Blackberry via Wireless IMAP and then tethered sync. for calendar & contacts (via Outlook and our forthcoming MAPI plug-in). We are working on integration with the Blackberry and Good servers, and we are also looking at SyncML and ActiveSync. The hope is that this combo will lead us to mobile nirvana---over the air sync. with no client side install of software.

For folks looking for deeper fun, we also have a prototype Flash version of the Zimbra client that offers more of the Zimbra feature set, but that does mean client-side install. That should be posted shortly to

Keep those comments coming. Muchas gracias.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Mike Olson said...

Good news on the November release, Scott. MAPI-based wired sync will be good enough for us, so I'm eager to see that come out as well. I'll give the Flash demo a spin when it's live.

8:57 AM  
Blogger sogrady said...

Interesting feedback, Mike. The shared calendar feature, I agree, is a near must-have. I'm also curious as to whether or not the Zimbrians have checked out Funambol for the syncing question. Will have to ping them...

12:50 PM  
Blogger satish said...

Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. The mobile flash client was demo'ed today at Web2.0 and will be made available soon. In the meantime, we are working with Funambool as well .. Thanks - Satish

8:42 PM  

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