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Thread: Zimbra integrated in hosting business

  1. #1
    optimalix is offline New Member
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    Default Zimbra integrated in hosting business

    Hello,

    We are currently trying to evaluate the possibility of using Zimbra in the following manner:

    - Zimbra box acts as workgroup server
    - Zimbra box integrates with existing IMAP servers
    - The web client, in a webmail context, retrieves all e-mails at server mail.domain, and authenticates user via imap login.
    - Zimbra does not host any e-mail or provides any POP3/IMAP service, nor provides any filtering, as it is not MX for anything.

    So basically, we want it to provide groupware/webmail, on top of existing e-mail structure.

    Can this be achieved? Or is Zimbra completely dependant on it's own mail services?

    We are currently also looking at another solution (Atmail, www.atmail.com), which we already know provides all that I mentioned.

    Thank you,
    rodrigo

  2. #2
    raj's Avatar
    raj
    raj is offline Moderator
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    Hi..
    Zimbra is a very good solution for hosting companies and dont need anything extra to run, its a self contained product.

    All that you mentioned is “kind of possible” but it defies the whole purpose why Zimbra is created as per my personal opinion.
    For your things you can run postfix + mysql and other small apps to achieve your things in more efficient way other than using Zimbra.


    Truly Zimbra should run as a full featured Collaboration Suite(email + web + colander + gal + virus + Spam) and gives you 1 control on everything

    Run Zimbra as separate server (or Distributed install) to provide all services thru it only then its more useful.

    Raj
    i2k2systems.com

  3. #3
    KevinH's Avatar
    KevinH is offline Expert Member
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    Zimbra today isn't designed to be just a webmail UI and calendar. It's designed as Raj says to do email+calendar+contact+etc. While we've looked at adding IMAP proxy/mounting it's not something we have today. In fact we see the real value of Zimbra when using it together. I mean if you use your current mail system you won't get search, or any of the web services integration. You end up with a pretty *dumb* web UI.

    Can you talk about why you don't want to replace your current mail functionality? We are interested in hearing what your running today and why you aren't looking to change.

  4. #4
    optimalix is offline New Member
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    I completely understand that this is not something that Zimbra is specifically designed for, i totally see it as an Exchange Server alternative. However, i think that for a specific set of features it would be a great substitute for our current webmail solution.

    Our specific setup is based upon several Linux boxes, each running SW-SOFT's Plesk control panel. This setup forces all e-mail accounts to be inside the domain's specific server (if you/clients want to benefit from the management tools, of course). This will be true for nearly all hosting businesses using third-party control panel technology (you can have all Plesk mail on one server, using their Expand product, though, but i don't see Zimbra on top of that for sure..)

    Also, we already have MX frontends doing all the filtering, with all sorts of bits and tweaks, so Zimbra would not assume this role too. In fact, our filtering is so good we completely disable AV and Spamassassin sw/settings on the hosting boxes, they are irrelevant)

    Let's face it, there's no really decent OSS out there that provides such a nice integrated webmail/groupware package, at least as nice as Zimbra does. Interface IS important. We use IMP now, and other Horde modules (Plesk integrates Horde/IMP/etc), but sincerely... it does not makes us, and our clients, happy.

    When Raj says "For your things you can run postfix + mysql and other small apps to achieve your things in more efficient way other than using Zimbra.", i hardly agree. That fails on the "small apps".

    I bet that if Zimbra could be integrated in this manner, you would have a big bump in users. I dare to say, even customers.

    I suggest you take a look at Atmail's features. They also provide provide a complete server solution, with groupware features (even outlook syncing). Along with that, they provide a webmail client only solution. but the groupware features are present anyway, wether you use their server solution or not. It's not the same philosophy, but for us, hosting companies, it's more flexible. And if you pay the product, you get full source code too (all perl).

    I didn't want to evangelize any other product here, i'm just using it as an example to a possible secondary Zimbra orientation.

    Best regards,
    rodrigo
    Last edited by optimalix; 11-10-2005 at 04:53 PM.

  5. #5
    KevinH's Avatar
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    You make some good points. Let me try to pull a few bullet points out.

    1) You need to be able to support delagated admin via a control panel product like cPanel, Plesk or the like. So you'd want to be able to provide delagated access to the domains for adding and managing users on a particular domain.

    2) You'd be ok with using Zimbra for mail if our postfix was just used for internal delivery and we disabled AV and AS (which can be done today in the admin panel BTW).

    The reason I stress #2 is that to get our full functionality with search you really need to let Zimbra hold the mail. Similar for calendar to work best you want to have it integrated with mail and contacts. This will give user's free/busy support on their domain so that have a truly rich calendar experience.

    So looks like #1 is the only gap. Do you agree?

  6. #6
    optimalix is offline New Member
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    Regarding point 1, i want to understand first something:

    How is authentication done in Zimbra? IMAP or LDAP or DB?
    Let's say a user logs in, authenticates via IMAP, and, if first login, "create profile for user@domain". This profile would be saved on MySQL. Is this scenario a reality, or possible? If things worked like this, there would be no need to create users on Zimbra.

    One thing i can do is something like: when domain client creates maibox, that event fires a process that creates account on zimbra under the specified domain. This would be transparent to anyone. This can even be done via SSH, using CLI tools.

    So my question is, do i need to create user on zimbra, or can that be avoided as described on my first paragraph?

    Regarding point 2,

    Ok, ideal search functionality would be lost, but basic search, as found in pretty much every webmail, is still possible, correct? And how far does calendar and contacts integrate with e-mail, architecturally? Ain't those features just related to a profile/e-mail via a unique identifier or something? Are those features in anyway file-system dependent? If so, mail area dependent?

    I admit, i haven't looked with both eyes at your arch document, but i'm starting to consider that maybe i should..

  7. #7
    KevinH's Avatar
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    1) You do need to create users. It can be CLI, SOAP, or the admin UI.

    2) Our search requires our server and message store. So it's not something you can get with just any webmail or IMAP server.

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