Why VMWare Bought Zimbra: It's The Seats, Stupid

Zimbra has been the sleeper cloud-based email provider for the enterprise. I've known about the Bechtel deal -- roughly 50,000 seats globally -- for some time, but couldn't talk about it. Though it's been a while since I've spoken to Ramesh May, he did share some important facts with me:

1. Zimbra's code base is open source, with a 20,000 active members in the community. The Zimbra code base runs on Linux. It can be downloaded to run on-premises and it also is the foundation of Zimbra's cloud email service.

2. Yahoo! Zimbra was selling an email seat for $28/mailbox/year for 50+ seats. We'll be interested to see how the pricing changes.

3. The company was working with the community on adding instant messaging, expanding widgets, and building an offline email client. We also saw some interesting mashup and document viewing features.

4. Back in April, the company had 130 employees, 600+ .edu customers, 44M mailboxes, and 60,000 customers.

So why hasn't Zimbra been bigger on the national stage selling its hosted (80% of seats) and on-premises (20% of seats) email and calendaring solution? Two reasons.

First, Yahoo! did not build a direct sales force that way Google and every other enterprise email provider did.

Second, because a lot of these seats are sold through service providers. Comcast and NTT Communications have been selling Zimbra seats. You may be running Zimbra and not even know it.

So now it becomes clearer why VMWare bought this massively successful email provider. 

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Cloud-Hosted Collaboration: Multi-Tenant Or Dedicated?

We just had another of our regular cloud research meetings at Forrester. In these meetings, we cut across our research organization to examine cloud computing from every angle.

Compared with even just a year ago, it's amazing how important and pervasive cloud computing analysis (as opposed to cloud computing guesswork) has become in our research calendar.

You can see the existing cloud/*aaS research here and our planned research here. As the meeting host, I mostly listen, probe, and take notes, but ocassionally I get to jump in with a thought.

To wit: We are often asked about whether cloud-based collaboration (email, team sites, instant messaging, Web conferencing, social computing, etc.) works best on multi-tenant, dedicated solutions, or both. The answer is both, but trending towards multi-tenant. Our clients are interested in both multi-tenant and single-tenant or dedicated cloud solutions -- as long as the price is right.

The future of cloud-based collaboration is clearly multi-tenant for two economic reasons:

1. Multi-tenant enables the fundamental economic benefits of a shared resource. We can see this in the price war going on in email right now -- a 50% price cut in the last 12 months with multi-tenant cloud email. The floor on email cost keeps dropping, fueled by the better economics of multi-tenant solutions and high capacity utilization.

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Announcing Forrester's Next Book, "Empowered"

[Updated 7-27-2010: We've finished the book, picked the final name, and said a lot about in other places (like here and here).]

Josh Bernoff and I have begun work on Forrester's next book to be published by Harvard Business Press on September 14th in the Fall:

Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, Transform Your Business

Groundswell Heroes: Harnessing The Power Shift In Your Workplace And Marketplace

 

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Consumer Broadband Is The Workforce Technology Of The Decade

That call may surprise you. You might have put storage or Gigabit ethernet or the Internet itself at the top of the list. But when I think about what's different in the life of your average information worker as the decade comes to a close, it's the instant-on access to just about everything that the adoption of consumer broadband has fueled.

From our Consumer Technographics(r) survey of over 50,000 consumers every year for the last 12 years, between 2000 and 2009, consumer broadband soared from 2% to 63% of US households. For context, home PC adoption grew from 51% to 77%.

But why is consumer broadband the workforce technology of the decade? Three main reasons:

1. Telecommuting has become a way of life for xx million information workers. We have been watching -- and forecasting -- the growth of telecommuting. The impact is immediate and obvious: more hours to work; more location flexibility in hiring and retaining; and more work-life control. Telecommuting in the US is dependent on cheap broadband to the home. Telecommuters will rise to include 43% of the US information workforce by 2016.

2. Broadband-enabled markets have triggered massive IT innovation. Google; Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and LinkedIn; WebEx, ZoHo, and Smartsheets.com; Amazon EC2, Google App Engine; and Windows Azure; open source and Web 2.0. All of these and thousands of other technologies and companies are built on the back of broadband to the home. The network innovation over the last 10 years makes the Internet 1.0 era look like a pre-season warmup game.

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IBM Lotus Sametime 8.5 Is "Click To Conference"

Ted-Schadler  by Ted Schadler

Pal Henry Dewing and I heard yesterday from IBM's Rob Ingram about Lotus Sametime 8.5, the real-time collaboration product available on December 22. Lotus Sametime is the client/server product that first made enterprise instant messaging a global possibility back in 1998.

This dot release is IBM's first major overhaul of its real-time messaging product in three years. (My take is that IBM kept the 8.x version number to align it with the current Notes/Domino version.) For those firms that understand the power of real-time collaboration tools -- the ability to get an immediate answer, hold a virtual ad hoc meeting, or ping someone without bothering them with a phone call -- this product is an important upgrade.

Why? Because it's got the core elements of click-to-conference -- not just instant messaging and presence -- baked into it. And for ad hoc collaboration, click-to-conference is a much richer and easier thing to do than loading up separate applications for instant messaging, video conferencing, and Web conferencing.

I think of click-to-conference is "the ability to have an ad hoc meeting supported with rich media whenever you are online." It includes these elements:

  • One click to send out an invitation via instant messaging.
  • One click to join a meeting.
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Telepresence As Global Conference -- It's Almost Like Being There.

Ted-Schadler  by Ted Schadler

I had the chance to join 50 other people at a telepresence event last week. This one took place in real-time using Cisco's TelePresence rooms. (Okay, full disclosure, it was a Cisco industry analyst event held on December 9th.)

(This is a long post, so for those looking for key lessons and gotchas, just scroll now to the bottom.)

For those of you who've been asleep for the last 4 years as first HP and then Cisco followed by LifeSize, Polycom, RADVISION, Tandberg, and Teliris demonstrated the like-being-there experience of telepresence, it's pretty amazing stuff. Video conferencing with near face-time quality. You can in fact see the whites of their eyes.

Companies like P&G, GE, and Dreamworks are using telepresence technology to slash executive travel and give technical staff the tools to collaborate across massive distances with almost the same experience as being there (save the ability to shake hands, share a meal, and have a side conversation).

I first experienced telepresence in 2004 at HP's Corvallis, OR, lab, and it blew me away back then. It's only gotten better. (Colleague Claire Schooley has calculated the ROI of telepresence for those thinking about this technology.)

Back to this telepresence event:

  • Cisco used 12 telepresence rooms in at eight cities: Boston, New York, San Jose, Toronto, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Bedfont outside London.
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Harness The Power Of Workforce Personas

Ted-Schadler  by Ted Schadler

Do you truly understand your workforce and what they need from technology? Hint, it's a loaded question. You might think so, but you'd probably be wrong. They're not like you. Not at all.

We weren't sure, either, which is why we surveyed 2,001 US information workers -- people that use computers in their jobs to find out what technology they use and what they need to be successful in their jobs.

We discovered something that consumer market researchers have known for generations: Not everybody needs or wants the same stuff. So we drew on our decade of experience with quantitative analysis and created a segmentation that highlights the differences between employees based on their need for location flexibility (mobility) and their application use:

  • Location flexibility, a.k.a., mobility -- drives differences in the need for smartphones, wireless networks, collaboration tools, and telecommuting support.
  • Application use drives differences in social computing, consumerization of IT, and tolerance for virtual desktops.
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Exchange 2010: Five Good Reasons To Upgrade

Ted-Schadler  by Ted Schadler

Microsoft announced the general availability of Exchange Server 2010 yesterday. For information & knowledge management professionals and for the productivity of information workers, there are five good reasons to upgrade:

  1. Much cheaper storage. Exchange 2007 introduced a new storage model, where the email server manages direct-attached storage. Exchange 2010 extends that capability and in the words of one beta customer, "We have reduced the overall costs for our storage by 30% while increasing the usable disk space nine times." This benefit comes from using cheap direct-attached storage in lieu of storage area networks.
  2. Support for much bigger mailboxes. Most firms limit mailbox size to 100-250 MB for good reasons: storage cost, nightly backup windows too short, eDiscovery hassles. Exchange 2010 has much faster I/O (Microsoft says 15 times faster than in Exchange 2003) and improved storage management that allows direct-attached storage and cheap disks. Net it out, and it becomes much easier to expand the mailboxes to 1-2 GB.
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Cisco's Collaboration Strategy: Coming Through The Network Door

Ted-Schadler  by Ted Schadler

Cisco's John Chambers has made "collaboration" a strategy for the company's customers and employees. And enterprise GM Tony Bates is now tasked with driving that strategy. I'm writing from Cisco's launch event in San Francisco. (Well, it's actually still going on.)

There's a lot to digest and analzye, which we'll do over time. But I wanted to share some early thoughts . . .

This week's announcement marks Cisco's formal entry into the broader collaboration market, long fragmented and dominated by IBM and Microsoft for applications and by Tandberg and Polycom for video conferencing.

The company claims 61 products and features, but the key components are email, instant messaging, web conferencing, social software, and video conferencing as well as network-based services like a business TelePresence directory and policy-controlled content tagging. And in the words of Tony Bates, "a video stream runs through all of it."

Cisco's strategy for collaboration fascinates me because it's bold and frankly orthogonal to Microsoft's desktop productivity path and IBM's workgroup history. It's also enterprise-grade by default, unlike Google's consumer-first approach. But I'm fascinated and I believe IT pros should be interested in Cisco's solutions for three reasons:

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100,000 iPhone Apps. Congrats. Now Add Things Businesses Care About

Tedschadler  by Ted Schadler

It had to happen eventually. The success of iPhone (now used by 14% of US, UK, and Canadian smartphone-using information workers) is driven signficantly by "there's an app for that." So that while a huge congratulations! is in order, getting to 100,000 applications available was just a matter of time. Mostly consumer apps, of course, but a growing number of business applications, including Cisco WebEx, Oracle Business Indicators, Roambi's Visualizer data dashboard toolkit, and Salesforce Mobile.

But what IT professionals need, particularly those focused on making information workers productive with smartphones, is much better support for managing custom and prepackaged business applications. (That along with a bunch of things like more robust security, easier device management, stronger encryption, more policy-based control over the device, things that RIM does but the largely Microsoft-controlled ActiveSync solution doesn't. But more on that another time).

Focusing here on applications, it's time for us all to insist that Apple make it easy for IT professionals to:

  • Support wireless application downloads.The current iTunes or iPhone Desktop Configurator solution just doesn't cut it for businesses. They need over-the-air download and update capability.

  • Push application updates. How else can IT feel confident that a business application will work?

  • Configure applications remotely. How else can in-field changes be supported?

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