VMware Unveils Beta Version of Zimbra 8.0

VMware is making a beta version of the new Zimbra Collaboration Server 8.0 available for download today, its widely used open-source e-mail and calendar solution.  There are several big improvements, including a lot of integration, easier deployment and a line-up of new end user features.  The final release will be made available later this quarter.

Zimbra 8.0 can now be integrated with  solutions from Cisco and Mitel unified communications, extending the platform’s core functionality with things like video conferencing and IM.  There’s also an SDK available for customers that may be interested in connecting Zimbra with other UC offerings, and 8.0 also syncs with Active Directory and other LDAP software for better data integration.

On the admin side, Zimbra can be deployed as a virtual appliance in under 10 minutes according to the company. Upgrading has been given a speed boost as well – it apparently takes less than one minute of downtime to upgrade from an earlier version to 8.0.

On the end user side, the interface has been enhanced with social features, ‘smart’ scheduling suggestions and a number of other capabilities such as the ability to call phones from within the UI. More voicemail functionality has been added as well, Zimbra is now integrated with WebEx, and it’s now possible to browse deleted files among other things.

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

Earlier this month the virtualization giant announced that it’s buying DynamicOps to up its cloud play – the firm makes provisioning software for cloud environments.