Software startup looks to take on Symantec and tap into users' compliance fears

August 18, 2007

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

As the worlds of email and storage get even more entwined, startup Zimbra readies its own take on the "archiving plus email" trend. This week, the startup added archiving and e-discovery features to its core email messaging product, the Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS).

The software, which runs on commodity Linux servers, uses an agent to draw emails from Exchange or Domino servers, archives the data, and searches it. "It's designed to do indexing on everything that goes through your live mailbox," says Scott Dietzen, Zimbra's CTO, adding that the software can search over 200 content types, from Word documents to Adobe attachments.

The exec says running email archiving and e-discovery software on a standard Linux server could help firms lower their storage costs. "It doesn't need expensive SAN or NAS to be deployed, he says, adding that the software will also work with storage devices from the likes of EMC and NetApp.

On the downside, Zimbra's facing a competitive and changing market. Recent weeks have seen a slew of consolidation in this space, as more and more software firms look to offer email archiving and e-discovery combos. (See Autonomy Acquires Zantaz for $375M and Google Plucks Postini.)

Last week, Autonomy parted company with $375 million to acquire archiving specialist Zantaz. That was followed by Google's acquisition of software vendor Postini for $625 million. (See Autonomy Acquires Zantaz, Zimbra Unveils Archiving, and Google Acquires Postini.)The trend has been underway for a while. Last year, for example, messaging specialist Mirapoint announced a deal to bundle NetApp storage with its own Message Server device. (See Mirapoint to Bundle SAN/Email Solution and Mirapoint, NetApp Integrate.)

Zimbra's most obvious competitor, however, is Symantec's Enterprise Vault, another all-in-one software combo, although Dietzen told Byte and Switch that at $24 per user (down from an original $28 per user), the startup has undercut its rival. (See Symantec Upgrades Mail Archive.) Pricing for Symantec's Enterprise Vault starts at $40.

The appeal of the software-based messaging/archiving/e-discovery trifecta is its ease of use, according to Mike Osterman, president of analyst firm Osterman Research. "You want something that's going to be really simple for IT administrators to manage without them having to do more work than they already do."

At least one user buys into the idea. "A big part of our decision [to deploy Zimbra] was seeing that archiving was coming," says Kris Kenyon, services manager at Midlothian, Texas-based AirCanopy, which provides managed email services to the educational sector.

AirCanopy has been using Zimbra's archiving and e-discovery software for about 90 days, according to Kenyon. "What I like about this is the integration -- we want to give [school districts] not only archiving, but also easy retrieval of the data."The exec explains that, from December this year, school districts will be subject to the same stringent data retention rules as their corporate counterparts with regard to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). (See Federal Schmederal, Index Addresses FRCP, and Storage Goes to Law School.)

The amendments to the FRCP legislation, which force firms to make electronic documents quickly available in legal disputes, have proven a source of anxiety for CIOs and IT managers juggling storage growth with additional compliance pressures. (See Law Firms Face Storage Challenges and FRCP Tip Sheet.)

Kenyon chose Zimbra's archiving and e-discovery offering based on price and options. "It was the most cost-effective solution," he says, adding that most school districts don't have money to burn. "The other thing I was looking at was a home-built solution that used a lot of open source, but the features and functionality weren't there," he explains. "One of the most compelling reasons to use Zimbra was that they provide a storage engine that automatically migrates [data] from tier 1 to tier 2 storage based on message age."

Founded in 2003 by former Openwave execs Satish Dharmaraj, Ross Dargahi, and Roland Schemers, Zimbra has raised around $30 million in three rounds of funding. Investors include Presidio STX, Duff Ackerman & Goodrich, and Benchmark Capital. Dharmaraj and Dargahi are now the startup's CEO and vice president of product development, respectively, with Schemers serving as vice president of technology.

Based in San Mateo, Calif., the firm has just over 100 employees and a dozen customers, which include Internet service provider Comcast and the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute in Australia. (See LR Insider: Residential VOIP Booming.)James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Benchmark Capital

  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)

  • Duff Ackerman & Goodrich LLC (DAG)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

  • IDC

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Mirapoint Inc.

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Openwave Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: OPWV)

  • Osterman Research

  • Postini Inc.

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • Zantaz Inc.

  • Zimbra Inc.

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox
More Insights