Zimbra - used to be great, still good, could be great again.
July 29, 2016

Zimbra - used to be great, still good, could be great again.

Paul Chauvet | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 6 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with Zimbra

We use Zimbra for all faculty/staff email accounts. We use it for individual email accounts as well as a large number of shared email accounts for departments or programs. We find the shared accounts to be especially useful for how we do business. We primarily use the web interface instead of a desktop client like Outlook. Most employees that use mobile access on their devices access Zimbra with the iOS or Android built-in Exchange/ActiveSync clients.
  • Zimbra's web interface is second to none. It is better for most than even thick clients like Outlook. It provides a consistent experience across platforms so we don't have to worry about Mac vs. PC for how it works.
  • It is relatively easy to maintain and administer, and far less complex than other locally hosted environments like Exchange.
  • It has a powerful scripting interface, and a RESTful API that makes it easy to write scripts to manage accounts.
  • Zimbra needs to get their act together with their multi-server environment. It is long past when they initially announced their "Project Always On", which would allow accounts to be hosted on multiple mailbox servers at a time for high availability.
  • The need to work on their bugs. The product releases have been significantly buggier since the 7.x era. Upgrading from 7.x to 8.0.9 introduced a lot of problems. Later releases fixed some, but caused others.
  • Our experience with technical support staff from Zimbra is not what it used to be. They used to have one of the best technical support groups, but our experiences with them in the past two years haven't been as positive.
  • Zimbra has a really easy to use, though still powerful web interface. This lets our users get up and running with it quickly after they start without having to offer training sessions.
  • The scripting interface makes account management easy and powerful. We can easily setup per-department shares based on an employee's roles.
  • Office 365, Google Apps, Groupwise and Communigate
  • We were originally a Groupwise shop before changing to Zimbra in 2008. Zimbra, from an end-user standpoint, pricing, system administration, and management is a far better system.
  • We use Google Apps for our students. We did not find it to be suitable for faculty and staff due to its lack of shared accounts.
  • We are moving from Zimbra to Office 365. Office 365 offers just about all that Zimbra had, though its web interface is inferior to that of Zimbra. It does offer us greatly reduced costs though, and high availability. If Zimbra were to have a fully HA environment, we may have stayed with them.
Zimbra is great for an email system for a medium or large organization with appropriate IT staffing. The system is easy to use for end-users, and has a fantastic web interface. Unfortunately, it is overly complex, when considering staffing requirements and price, when compared with Office 365 or Google Apps for smaller organizations. For other education customers, it is hard to compete with Microsoft and Google providing their services for "Free" now though.

Zimbra Email & Collaboration Feature Ratings

Task Management
Mobile Access
Integrates with Outlook
Document collaboration
Access control
Advanced security features

Zimbra Implementation

Overall, we were satisfied with the implementation. We perhaps should have spent more time consulting with Zimbra or others regarding best practices but as we got to know the system better we were able to make changes relatively easily after the fact.
Yes - 
  • Initial setup and configuration of Zimbra.
  • External spam filter still pointing mail at our old email system. Forwarders from old-system setup to route mail to the new system for users as they were switched.
  • Setup of test groups within IT
  • Setup and migration of mail/calendar/contacts for IT and select test groups outside of IT.
  • Full scale migration, division by division, a few departments a week
  • Decommission of old email system, and direct mail from the spam filter directly at the new system.
Change management was minimal - We still had extremely rudimentary change management procedures in place when we moved to Zimbra (in 2007/2008)
  • Setting up the multiserver architecture
  • Setting up load balancing (without losing the real user's IP address for logging purposes)
  • Working the kinks out of the migration tool (from Groupwise to Zimbra) and finding a tool for our other email system (CommuniGate)