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PhD Candidate at Purdue University, Computer Science.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Zimbra Review


I had the chance to work on the open source edition of zimbra collaboration suite (ZCS). It was planned to deploy that mail server as part of a fully integrated system containing CRM and Workflow. the three major components should be integrated together to automate all the business intelligence these company's needs.
well, it was logic to start by searching for Zimbra reviews. Unfortunately, all the reviews at that time were functional reviews. I have to confess that i was impressed by its functionalities and specially the "Zimlets". I also started to check the forum and I found it promising. After working on zimbra; I really have to say that I appreciate their forums very much, guys are really helpful on this forum .
I will focus on usability and not functionality.
so, I took the responsibility of deploying and supporting the ZCS.
talking about interface: when I get an eye on the zimbra interface, i felt that I am opening a desktop application. mmm, I forgot to say that opening the zimbra client for the first time is a miserable situation. it was a bad experiment for me. opening the browser for more than 60 secs waiting to see login screen is a terrible thing for user satisfaction.
well, to be honest, the client interface is not only slow for the first time; but actually the peak is on the first opening time. my client was complaining that they get very slow response till they get the login screen. now, let's talk about the browser you can use with ZCS.
IE 5,6,7 were terrible. i found it very bad to enforce the client to change his browser in order to prevent the terrible message appearing with IE with the client interface.
Briefly, if u aim to use ZCS forget the Internet Explorer.
the "Internet Explorer" becomes "Internet Explosion" .

The firefox is much better, it is better in performance than IE but still terrible comparing with gmail for example.
I didn't try opera nor Mozilla on zimbra, i was depressed enough at that time.
as a user, i find the selection is not friendly at all. Majority interfaces use check boxes. in order to apply an action on a selected message i had to be very fast, because after some while the selection is lost!!!
also, there is no progress bar; i click and find nthg changing (due to response time, or the selection problem i pointed to before) so wt i was doing is keeping clicking:S

the administration interface is not reliable at all. sometimes it doesn't refresh the server status. also there was deleted domain, but it remains within the domains list for sometime, which made me confused.

the stability wasn't better than the interface. i faced a lot of problems with stability, users had many problems with accessing their messages, or logging in. well, i don't want to get deeper in technical details and how they could be solved. at the end i had to made some batches to solve the problems happening frequently with users.
I tried to search in the HW configuration but i didn't get anythg. the memory had never reached 100% of usage.
maybe later i will post about these monitoring results.

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