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Zimbra

August 3rd, 2008

One of the projects I’m involved with at work is implementing a new email system. We’re going to be moving approximately 2100 users from Squirrelmail to the Zimbra Collaboration Suite. As part of the transition we’re not going to be moving user’s mail, instead choosing to go the fresh slate route. All of our users will still have access to their old mail for some time to get what they really need out of their mailboxes. We’re also going to be moving completely away from using mail clients, opting instead to have our users access their mail through the ZCS web UI and utilize all of it’s features. We didn’t make these choices lightly, but honestly our users have a habit of using their email for jokes, shopping, and more jokes – none of which I feel like moving. As for the mail client decision – anyone who’s ever migrated 3GB worth of email from one computer to another can probably see where we’re coming from.

In terms of the user experience, moving from Squirrelmail to Zimbra is akin to trading in a Ford Model T for a Dodge Viper. Zimbra has a beautiful AJAX UI that, while being easy on the eyes, is also extremely functional. Users essentially have all the functionality that they would expect from a locally installed client. One nice thing about Zimbra is that you’re not locked into using the AJAX interface – you can choose to use a standard HTML interface which is a stripped down version of the UI, but still a million times better than what we’re moving from.

One of the things I’m hoping to do with this blog is provide information on our Zimbra implementation that other admins may find useful. I’ve spent hours trying to find solutions to problems we’ve run into already (syncing Zimbra’s internal LDAP server with an external OD server and auto-provisioning new email accounts for instance) and if I can save another admin the hassle, I’ll be satisfied that I accomplished something.

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