Blogger: Bill Pray
Rumor has it that Yahoo! is shopping Zimbra, an open-source e-mail and collaboration solution that Yahoo! acquired in 2007. Yahoo!’s failure to capitalize on the promising technology from Zimbra has been fodder for bloggers, but what is more interesting is what could potentially become of Zimbra. Who might buy Zimbra from Yahoo! and why? In looking at the current enterprise e-mail market, here are some thoughts:
- Adobe – With Adobe code on nearly every desktop and Adobe’s push to achieve the same ubiquity on mobile devices, it is interesting to watch Adobe dive into the collaboration SaaS market with Acrobat.com (leveraging its web conferencing success). However, Adobe is still missing some pieces, including e-mail. Acquiring Zimbra would help Adobe flesh out their SaaS collaboration offering, and give it a stronger on-premise story to complement Acrobat Connect Pro (Adobe’s enterprise web conferencing solution).
- Cisco – A year ago Cisco acquired Zimbra’s cousin – PostPath – but has yet to launch its offering. Buying Zimbra would not get Cisco much more than it has with PostPath, other than some additional customers. However, it is interesting to note that the PostPath solution uses some Zimbra open source code. I wonder if Cisco would have bought Zimbra over PostPath if it had the option a year ago?
- Google – As Google continues its push into enterprise communication and collaboration markets, buying Zimbra could give Google an enterprise class solution that adds an on-premise story - something Gmail currently lacks. Besides, this makes for a great story because Yahoo! bought Zimbra with the intent to take on Google.
- IBM – While it is doubtful IBM is interested, Zimbra could be an beneficial acquisition for IBM. With Zimbra’s open-source underpinnings and code that is not hampered by more than a decade of development as a proprietary, on-premise solution (Lotus Notes), IBM could do what Yahoo! failed to do – turn Zimbra into a robust, enterprise-class, SaaS solution. Currently, IBM is on the same painful path as Microsoft in trying to turn its mature, on-premise e-mail solution into a SaaS solution also.
- Microsoft – While Microsoft was once interested in acquiring Yahoo!, it wasn’t because of Zimbra. Microsoft has nothing to gain by buying Zimbra. Zimbra would not really provide Microsoft with anything that it doesn’t already have in some form – except to put Microsoft in the awkward position of owning an open source based e-mail solution that was designed from the beginning to compete with Exchange. Even acquiring Zimbra for the customer base is not that interesting for Microsoft because most of the Zimbra customers are somewhat anti-Microsoft. Microsoft would just lose them to another solution eventually. Besides, Microsoft has its hands full trying to launch Exchange 2010 as both an on-premise and SaaS solution.
- Novell – Similar to IBM in that Novell has it’s own decade plus old solution with GroupWise - but different in that Novell currently does not have a SaaS offering for e-mail. A bit of Novell history for you – Novell was one of the first major vendors to offer a consumer and enterprise class, web-based e-mail solution with NetMail. Novell chose not to pursue the SaaS e-mail market and sold the solution to a partner. If Novell wanted to get back in, it could buy Zimbra and spin up its own SaaS solution in an e-mail market where they have previously done well as the alternative to Microsoft and IBM.
- Oracle – Interestingly enough, Oracle Beehive currently leverages the Zimbra open source code for it’s web client. Zimbra could beef up Oracle’s e-mail solution in Beehive (as well as some of the other collaborative pieces) and equip Oracle to become more serious about Beehive On Demand, its SaaS offering.