Outsourcing E-mail

Higher Education and K-12 institutions have always either lead in the IT field with innovative solutions or been way behind in technology to the point of not having any.

Open source has always been an option, although generally for the technically inclined but several years ago the big guys (Google and Microsoft), brought hosted E-mail offerings to the table that would out perform any locally installed solution and without a price tag associated with it.

A new player recently entered the market with their very attractive offering. ZCS from Zimbra.

Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) is a groupware product created by Zimbra Inc., located in San Mateo, California, USA. The company was purchased by Yahoo! in September 2007.[1]. The software consists of both client and server components. Two versions of Zimbra are available: an open-source version, and a commercially supported version (“Zimbra Network”) with closed-source components. These software versions are available from Zimbra for download and independent use, from Zimbra-authorized partners, and included with service from a Zimbra-authorized hosting provider.

So what are the options?

  1. Outsource
    1. Google Apps for Education
    2. Microsoft’s Live@edu Service
    3. Zimbra’s Hosted Collaboration Suite
  2. Maintain/deploy in-house

Even thought there are legitimate issues with outsourcing, like privacy of e-mails, loosing control over the capability to access logs in case of an incident and ads displayed to the constituents amongst others; the option to provide this same level of service in-house is not economically feasible.

Lets take a look what these services offer:

Features Google Apps Microsoft Live@edu Zimbra
Mailbox size 7.1Gb 10Gb 7Gb
Attachment size 20Mb 20Mb 25Mb
Calendar (Private) Yes Yes Yes
Calendar (Public) Yes Yes No
CalDav compliant calendaring Yes No Yes
Docs Yes Yes Yes
Spreadsheet Yes Yes No
Presentation Yes No No
Forms Yes No No
Messaging/Chat Yes No Yes
Offline Feature Yes No No
Workplace No Yes No
Shared Drive No 5Gb No
SMS Scheduling Yes No No
SMS Notification Yes Yes No
POP3 Yes Yes Yes
IMAP Yes Yes Yes
Access other accounts Yes N/A Yes
Folders No Yes Yes
Labels Yes No No
Threaded conversations Yes No Yes
Rules and filters Yes Yes Yes
Built-In protection (Legal) N/A Yes N/A
Apple Support Yes No No
Spam Rating 10 7 7
Integration Rating 10 7 8
Site Management 9 8 8
Widgets/Web 2.0 Mash-up framework Yes No Planned
Mobile Apps (BB, iPhone, etc.) Yes No No
Data Portability (move you data to another solution) Yes Limited Yes
Backups No Optional Optional
Web Site/Portal Yes Yes No
University Domain Yes Yes Yes

Microsoft and Google are free provided that they can display ads for alumni and Zimbra costs $2 per year per student.


Microsoft Live@edu:

Microsoft Live@edu video
Live@edu with Exchange Labs
Web Collaboration

Google Apps for Education:

Google Apps video


Compare Hosted EDU Products