Wow! That is pretty much the only word that I have to describe what I just read from the first 6 pages of the Zimbra Collaboration Server 8 (Z8 hereafter) Release Notes. If everything in the release notes holds up to the hype I would say that it could be a game changer for Zimbra, especially when you see the starting price for the 15 user license, which is $840 bucks for a perpetual licenses. An added bonus is that the starter edition also includes Mobile Device Sync and Archiving/Discovery, both of which were sold separately in the past.
Below is a summary of the interesting new stuff, but if you want to read all about the new features you can head over to the release notes here.
New User Interface – The user interface for both administrators and end users has gotten a complete overhaul. Tasks are must easier to preform, and you no longer have to look for things that were harder to find in the older UI design. Emails are also displayed in Conversation View for easily readability.
Improved Search – Queries entered into the search box are now opened in a separate tab so that you can continue working and even navigate to other emails but not lose your search results until your ready to close them.
Enterprise Calendaring – The calendar functionality of Z8 has been greatly enhanced as well, it now looks and feels much more like what Outlook users are typically used to. The ability to see and manage multiple calendars, the ability to schedule meetings with visibility to other peoples availability all in one place, and even a list of conference rooms that are available at the time they want to hold their meeting.
Mobile Sync for Active Sync 12.1 devices – Zimbra has implemented the MS Active Sync 12.1 protocol into Z8 so that any active sync compatible device is able to natively sync mail, calendars, and even wipe the device remotely if lost or stolen. There is even advanced bandwidth and battery life optimizations that have been implemented.
Unified Communications support – Z8 also now has integration for both Cisco and Mitel UC platforms that allow Click-to-Call, Presence, Visual Voicemail, and Call History all to be integrated into the Zimbra Collaboration Server.
Other features include advanced IT as a Service enhancements such as the ability to build multi-node deployments for scalability and redundancy. As well as the ability for multi-tenancy so that service providers can host multiple email domains for different departments or different organizations all together.
If you like to do things yourself (Even if you are the end user) there is also the ability to create your own distribution lists from the web client as well as search for and recover deleted items from your mailbox, calendar, contacts, and tasks, all without the intervention of an administrator.
I mentioned that Archiving and Discovery was also built in too, and either IT or the end user can configure litigation holds, or custom retention policies without too much hassle.
Because I haven’t had much time to play around with Z8 yet, I won’t go into detail on how to set up the new virtual appliance, but look for that in an upcoming post.