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VMware LogoVMware unveiled Zimbra Collaboration Server 7, along with beta versions of Zimbra Desktop 7 and the VMware Zimbra Appliance with an emphasis on making data available everywhere.

Zimbra 7 is Zimbra's first major release since VMware acquired Zimbra from Yahoo. The general consensus at that point was Zimbra had been rescued, but it was unclear what VMware planned to do with the company. After all, VMware isn't exactly in the market of making email products.

Fast-forward to the unveiling, and the picture has become much clearer. VMware is positioning Zimbra as the private cloud collaboration solution. New features are focused on data sharing, including files, calendars, and a more powerful search to find information quickly.

Mail scheduling and SMS calendar reminders provide additional ways to manage your inbox and calendar. There have also been a number of improvements for Administration, including better role-based management features, and tighter integration with Blackberry's Enterprise solutions.

VMware puts out some interesting numbers as well: 66 million paid mailboxes (the primary licensing method) and over 200,000 companies using the product. This is excellent growth for an open-source product that is battling against entrenched competition from Microsoft's Exchange and IBM's Lotus Notes.

Licensing comes in four tiers for three Zimbra editions, with per-mailbox licensing being the primary license structure. The structure is confusing though, with the VMware appliance having its own Editions that aren't layed in with the standard three. I recommend looking through Zimbra's pricing structure carefully before picking a particular version.

Hosting options are provided by Zimbra partners, not directly through Zimbra. A detailed hosting partner listing, along with news of the release, is available on Zimbra's website

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