A teaching colleague recently asked “Why should we bother switching to Zimbra? FirstClass already does what we need.”
They had a very good point. From the users’ perspective, FirstClass has a lot of the functionality that we already need. However, there are a few very good reasons to move to something more “standards-based” semi-open source and enterprise-class.
A few examples that would be of interest to the users include:
1. Zimbra is natively browser-based, eliminating the need for maintaining and installing clients.
2. FirstClass has no off-line functionality. If you’re not hooked up to the Web, you have nothing. If you need off-line functionality, with Zimbra Desktop you can now keep working.
3. With their huge installed base, numerous “mash ups” using other databases are being built to leverage data that are sitting on our server with data elsewhere. An example of this would be to use Google Maps or our VoIP PBX and link them to a user’s Zimbra contact database – so that when you clicked on an address, you could get a map to their location, or if you clicked on their phone number, the PBX would initiate a call first to your cell/office phone and then connect you to to the desired party.
4. Zimbra is platform and/or email client agnostic. Macs/PCs/Outlook/Mail etc are all supported.
5. RSS feeds and tagging are supported.
6. Full integration with the Mac applications. This would allow the Mac’s contact database, iCal, etc. to be sync’d, enabling these utilities to be used by the applications on the system. This could allow further synchronization with other services like .Mac.
From the administrator’s perspective, the manageability is far superior to FirstClass. A few examples of this include:
1. LDAP/AD is fully supported
2. Online single mailbox backups and restores – to a specific point in time.
3. Virtual appliance installation (increased security and ease of installation)
4. SAN are fully supported
These are just a few of the features that set it off from – and surpass – FirstClass.
Finally, with the flexibility of the platform and number of users continuing to rise, we will soon reach the critical mass where lots of add-ons and additional functionality will be available.

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