VMware organizes its channel to sell Zimbra starting next month

As part of its new cloud computing strategy VMware acquired Zimbra from Yahoo! in January.

Zimbra is an online/offline collaboration suite which Yahoo acquired in September 2007 for $350M in cash and that competes with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) PIMs offered by Google or Zoho for example.

Zimbra also offers an open source mail client that competes with products such as Microsoft Office and Mozilla Thunderbird. 
Yahoo is rumored to be trying to sell it since September 2008.

The new VMware that Paul Maritz is building since June 2008, when he replaced the founder Diane Greene as CEO, believes that SaaS applications must be part of the platform as much as the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) underlying foundation blocks. So the company is developing and acquiring in many areas, far away from its corporate technology area of expertise, to build an end-to-end software stack.

But VMware has been quiet so far about Zimbra. Probably, training a channel that is used to sell hypervisors and virtual machines is a significant challenge that required some time. 
The company seems ready now.

The Var Guy in fact just reported that VMware will start selling Zimbra through the channel starting next month:

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 channels & business development at Zimbra.

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 [Andy Pflaum, head of global channels & business development at Zimbra]


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 problem is not if VMware plans or not to host the Zimbra suite directly to better compete against Microsoft.
The problem is that VMware is not yet a recognized vendor in the email and PIM market. While the company and its partners may turn Zimbra into a compelling offering, those customers remain fully aware that the VMware’s core business still is selling virtual machines. This means that if the efforts in the SaaS market will not be successful VMware will progressively reduce funds dedicated to it and go back focusing on selling virtual machines.