First, the back story: VMware acquired Zimbra from Yahoo in January 2010. By March 2010, VMware was describing plans for the VMware channel to sell Zimbra as well as forthcoming Zimbra appliances, as noted in this FastChat Video:
Here Comes the ChannelNow, the next chapter in the VMware-Zimbra strategy is set to unfold. Starting Aug. 1, the VMware channel and VMware's entire sales force will be empowered to sell Zimbra, according to Andy Pflaum, head of global sales and channels at Zimbra.
The channel generates roughly 80 percent of VMware's revenue, so it's safe to expect a similar VMware channel commitment to Zimbra, The VAR Guy believes.
Next up, VMware expects to unveil the Zimbra appliance at VMworld (Aug. 30-Sept. 2, San Francisco). VARs will be able to sell Zimbra appliance as an on-premise or cloud solution, according to Pflaum.
Targeting Microsoft ExchangeNo doubt, VMware and Zimbra intend to target the Microsoft Exchange installed base, where many customers are (A) contemplating migrations from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 or (B) contemplating a move from on-premises Exchange to hosted Exchange. Based on those inflection points, it's an ideal time for channel partners to be in the market discussing Zimbra as an alternative email solution, Pflaum asserts.
Still, Microsoft has made progress with its Exchange efforts. More than 16,000 channel partners have signed up to offer Microsoft BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), which includes Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. And a range of companies -- such as Intermedia, Apptix and Verio -- now offer Hosted Exchange 2010 to VARs and resellers.
But here's the twist: Zimbra's Pflaum says many hosting providers are looking to hedge their email bets because they don't necessarily want to compete with Microsoft's own BPOS and Exchange Online efforts.
Pflaum also pointed out that VMware and Zimbra have no plans to build a VMware cloud and/or to host Zimbra directly for partners. Instead, Zimbra plans to leverage existing relationships with roughly 500 hosting companies that offer Zimbra.
The VAR Guy will be watching -- and listening -- for the official VMware-Zimbra channel efforts on Aug. 1.
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