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Thread: Why Zimbra so expensive?

  1. #11
    bersrker is offline Intermediate Member
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    There are a couple of things to consider when comparing the two. OS licensing costs and perpetual updates.

    First, with Zimbra, you're not necessarily tied to a specific OS. Sure, it needs to be UNIX based, but you've got options. You could go the Apple OSX server route, which gives you more expensive hardware, but allows you an unlimited client license for $999, and I don't believe that you're tied to any license term. You could also go the "enterprise class" Linux route with SUSE or RedHat, but you will have to pay for support for those. If you're being cost conscious, you could download Ubuntu, which is a supported Network Edition OS, and doesn't necessarily require a support contract to run. That would save you more than $5,000 over a 4-year term according to the spreadsheet mentioned.


    Second, Zimbra's licensing is more like Microsoft's "Software Assurance" licensing, which allows for upgrades to software when new versions are available. This ups the costs of licensing pretty significantly. Looking that pricing up, it increases the cost of Exchange server itself from $3700 to $5500. That's not the only kicker...the SA term is only for 2 years. That means that if you want 4 years of potential upgrades, it's going to cost you $11,000 just for the server software for 4 years of upgradability. That doesn't include the costs of SA for the server OS, and both sets of client licenses you need (Windows CALs as well as Exchange CALs). I guess you could argue that you don't need the SA because MS generally stretches out their product cycles so that you wouldn't have to upgrade over the course of 4 years, but is that really a benefit? Considering all of the features that Zimbra's implemented in the 2 years that I've been using it, I'd love to sit down in 4 years and compare what Zimbra's got going on to Exchange 2007!

    There are many reasons to consider both, but from my personal experience, Zimbra tends to perform better on less hardware for the same amount of users compared to Exchange. Add to the fact that it's based on open standards, and you get a package that can run side by side with several other products, and is very extensible. On our server, we're running an Oracle database, Zimbra, apache, a support ticket system, and an SSL-based VPN. Try doing all of that on the same Windows server!
    Last edited by bersrker; 01-17-2008 at 10:18 PM.

  2. #12
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    dwmtractor is offline Moderator
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    Don't forget the personnel requirements either. I have never administered exchange, but everyone I have talked to who has, has complained about the level of effort required for care and feeding. The care and feeding of a working Zimbra server ain't much, at least in my experience!

  3. #13
    kirme3 is offline Trained Alumni
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    Just my own 2 cents, I currently run a Zimbra system with 35,000+ accounts and I also run and Exchange system with around 1,000 accounts.

    Here is the Hardware-
    Zimbra, ZCS 4.5.6 NE:
    OSX
    2 PPC 2.5 GHz Proc
    4 Gb Mem
    5 Mailstores
    2 LDAP
    3 MTA

    Exchange 2003
    1 Dell Server clustered to a 2nd using Neverfail(additional$$$)
    4 3 GHz Intel Proc
    4 GB Mem
    Using AD for LDAP

    I am currently having to rethink the Exchange config because it is under horsed on disk spindles. That's right, it can't handle 1,000 moderate accounts without getting the excessive RPC traffic caused by Outlook and Blackberry users on 6 disks. Also, I haven't looked at the comparison doc, but do they include Virus scanning in it?

    Zimbra, on the other hand, is barely breaking a sweat with around 7,000 accounts on each mailstore and smaller hardware.

    The other thing to note is the maintenance. Exchange does require a lot more maintenance if you want to keep it running smoothly. Don't forget backups too. You can use ntbackup, but for large installs you typically need to purchase something and that's usually a yearly fee and quite expensive...plus it's terribly slow to do individual mailbox backups.

    I look forward to the day we get all of our users off of Exchange...

  4. #14
    p24t is offline Moderator
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    We moved to Zimbra from Sun iPlanet mail and calendar servers. Firstly, the pricing wasn't much different between the two, I think Zimbra was a little bit more.

    However, the features we got from Zimbra were light-years beyond what our Sun mail/cal server had. It had a very simple (read: crappy) webmail interface, didn't really want to integrate with calendar software etc.

    Of course, people have asked "why don't we have outlook?" (by which they mean exchange of course)

    Why don't we want Exchange?
    1. It runs on Windows.
    2. Exchange is far more resource hungry than Zimbra. I don't want to have to double hardware costs because my app server needs to run a full GUI, and then the bloated Exchange on top of it.
    3. We have a lot of Linux workstations. Outlook for Linux doesn't perform that well. Since it doesn't exist.
    4. Exchange's web-outlook thing requires IE. Once again, IE != Linux. (okay it works in Wine but c'mon) In general I refuse to use a website of any kind (unless I -have- to) that requires that I use IE.
    5. I can't do all sorts of cool stuff with Exchange, because it's in Windows. With Zimbra, I can script things, automate user creation, all sorts of stuff.
    6. It runs on Windows. (actually that's my boss's biggest reason)

    Okay, now pricing. From MS's pricing (ya I know you can get discounts):

    $700 for the 'standard' edition
    $4000 for the 'enterprise' edition

    The difference between those is... the number of 'storage groups' and 'databases per Mailbox server'. Okay, I have no idea what that means, but I don't use Exchange. I'm going to assume that I would only need the Standard version.

    Then there's CAL's. $67/user.

    Okay, lets say I have a 100 user setup. With Exchange, that means $6700 for the CALs, and $700 for the software. (plus windows but I'm not going to bother looking up pricing)

    With Zimbra, let's look at the Standard pricing. "50 or more seats starting at $18/user/year." Okay, so 100 seats at $18 per, puts me at $1800 per year.

    So after 4 years (and several Zimbra major version updates) MS finally releases their new Exchange 2011. Zimbra has cost me $7200.

    After 4 years:

    Zimbra: $7200.
    Exchange: $7400.

    Winner: me!

    Okay, perhaps this isn't the greatest example, but it's close to my situation here. (we're actually on the Professional edition, and I'm using a non-free RH5 install.. but it came with the server.)

    And, I can integrate Zimbra with my LDAP user manager that I had to manage UNIX accounts etc. (which Zimbra can do but I don't feel like redoing it all - and it does some other stuff for me as well) And it makes my boss happy because I didn't introduce another flaky Windows server that constantly has to reboot, etc.

  5. #15
    fcash is offline Elite Member
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    Another thing that people tend to ignore in Zimbra vs. Exchange comparisons is the client.

    With Exchange, you are locked into Outlook on Windows (and maybe Entourage on MacOS X??), or their web thingy with IE on Windows.

    With Zimbra, you can use:
    On Windows:
    • Outlook 2003/2007
    • the Zimbra Desktop
    • the Zimbra web client in your browser of choice
    • any IMAP-compliant mail reader
    • any LDAP-compliant addressbook
    • any iCal-compliant calendar app


    On MacOS X:
    • the Zimbra Desktop
    • the Zimbra web client in your browser of choice
    • any IMAP-compliant mail reader
    • any LDAP-compliant addressbook
    • any iCal-compliant calendar app


    On Linux:
    • the Zimbra Desktop
    • the Zimbra web client in your browser of choice
    • Evolution
    • Kontact
    • any IMAP-compliant mail reader
    • any LDAP-compliant addressbook
    • any iCal-compliant calendar app


    On other Unix systems:
    • the Zimbra Desktop
    • the Zimbra web client in your browser of choice
    • Evolution
    • Kontact
    • any IMAP-compliant mail reader
    • any LDAP-compliant addressbook
    • any iCal-compliant calendar app

    [list]
    And so on. You aren't locked into a single client on a single OS. You can decide which client(s) and OS(es) to standardise on. That makes a *HUGE* difference for some people/organisations.
    Freddie

  6. #16
    jrobb is offline Zimbra Employee
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    Great post on the client options. The other thing to remember on clients is that Outlook is not longer free with Exchange.

    » Read the Exchange 2007 fine print | All about Microsoft | ZDNet.com
    Bugzilla - Wiki - Downloads - Before posting... Search!

  7. #17
    In_The_Ville is offline Special Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by bersrker View Post
    I'd love to sit down in 4 years and compare what Zimbra's got going on to Exchange 2007!
    It looks like in 4 years, Zimbra will be Exchange 2007.

  8. #18
    p24t is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by In_The_Ville View Post
    It looks like in 4 years, Zimbra will be Exchange 2007.
    The industry standard? Wouldn't surprise me.

  9. #19
    In_The_Ville is offline Special Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by p24t View Post
    The industry standard? Wouldn't surprise me.
    Excellent!!

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