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Thread: Zimbra plan with IM

  1. #11
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    Vote: Bug 47036 - RFE: include separate IM server

    I envision this as a non-committed RFE for quite some time, just throwing it out there based on some feedback. (I'll try to lay it out logically, though most of it will feel like what should be internal banter, my goal is to improve the Zimbra project as a whole by enlisting the community afterall.)

    Ok so we plan to de-couple/remove the bundled wildfire IM server in Bug 45932 - Remove IM server Helix. Which at the moment makes the most sense as the fork is quite outdated; allowing our limited resources to better focus on XMPP interop/proxy Bug 19398 - Integration with external IM servers (XMPP proxy support) Helix and other features like Bug 42786 - Implement XMPP "Send File" in ZWC & Bug 21340 - Collaborative chat (aka chat rooms)

    This also lets you expand to other protocals, there's other zimlets like Meebo that do aggregation, not sure where we fell on separate aim/yim/msn/etc connection (without an xmpp server that includes single sign-on).

    However, many have come to rely on our suite as an 'all in one' shop. Products are moving towards bundling IM from text, and voice, to vid Bug 33155 - Audio Chat / Video Chat. (We do have lots of integrated voicemail solutions already.)

    >(with regards to loosing) an XMPP server that I didn't even have to lift a finger to integrate into the mail and collaboration system?
    >Many of us are waiting for it to come out of beta and replace our existing XMPP setup! Please do not remove XMPP from ZCS 7.
    Thinking outloud: Else (as far as 100% included options go) you're left with people using like the upcoming simultaneous documents editor Bug 26408 - Simultaneous editing on shared documents to achieve basic text chat functionality... If cutting, why stop short of realtime which has so much potential? For instance could rip out some calendaring and use more DaviCal interop etc. Either we forge ahead at some point down the road (admittedly much further out than Helix) and do what we've achieved best over some of the other open source products out there (finding the greatest solutions to bundle - and integrating them very well I might add) or we sell ourselves short.

    Mixed message: We're touting an upcoming simplified virtual appliance that's easy to use, but would require setup and management of another appliance to achieve 'presence availability'? (With all the overhead that requires, like user account mapping, configuring, etc). Leads to lots of "what's the point of calling yourselves a full collaboration suite if I have to install all these other products after the fact to bring it on par with ___?"

    Another problem is I foresee (and interested in your thoughts), will people be people putting off on their upgrade (which includes all sorts of other new features & fixes - bugs they they might be complaining about hard) simply because their org has become dependent on our beta IM?

    Yes it's beta, but that label doesn't stop people right? Only reduces one's liability in the matter. (*Cough how long did it take G to remove their beta label? And don' t say it was because they wanted to tout "look at all we've done so far and it's only beta!" because if your selling a product shouldn't be using beta to skimp on accepting criticizm while still claiming enterprise class, it's best used for serious issues or things like this where we may be taking a feature in a different direction.) Though it seems admins expect a forwardish motion for beta things, even if it means having to re-add all your friends to a buddy list, whereas cutting a component may dig into their long-term plans a little harsher. We've just been conditioned that way over time.


    I'm going to quell right now any responses along the lines of 'please don't remove a feature before you allow lots of transition time' by simply stating: There are no more improvements planned for our bundled IM server fork and haven't been any serious changes in quite a while. Please investigate installing your own XMPP server for interop with our UI and you'll most likely have the best experience going forward.

    That said, it's why this RFE exists - to bring our excellent product forward. Don't care if we go with openfire, ejabberd, etc (not playing favorites, list is just huge). Go vote or make a short comment in bugzilla if absolutely necessary so we can prioritize; we still read the forums and welcome your longer replies below, it's just better to keep bugzilla technical.

  2. #12
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    Default An HSP's perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by mmorse View Post
    Ok so we plan to de-couple/remove the bundled wildfire IM server in Bug 45932 - Remove IM server Helix.
    I can see the logic of decoupling your old wildfire fork and can see opportunity for progress in many regards, however I wanted to put forward the following observations / comments which I hope will be useful feedback:

    - Having to separately research, understand, install, upgrade and maintain an IM server will increase TCO for the overall collaboration platform - one of the great selling points of Zimbra is that TCO is low and admin's don't generally have to concern themselves with the details of how each OSS component works.

    - HSPs and ISPs require multi domain support - OpenFire doesn't look like it's going to get that for some time (years by the sounds of it) - see: [#OF-162] Add multi-domain support (Virtual Domains) - Jive Software Open Source. is ejabberd the answer?

    - We really want Zimbra Proxy to support IM as its a lot of hassle [in a multi mbox server set-up] to explain to users how to work out their mbox server host name in order to configure external IM clients to access Zimbra IM... Maybe an external IM server will be useful as we can publish something like 'im.isp.dom' - still, it won't be the 'single unified zimbra host name' which makes having Zimbra proxy such a breeze.

    - HSPs *will* get complaints if IM is no longer part of the solution - so in order to upgrade to Helix, HSPs will need to invest in an alternative solution and make sure communication is well managed - again, increased TCO and an expanded project plan for the upgrade... (ref Beta tag - doesn't matter what you say to folks, if a feature is there and they use it, they want to keep it!)

  3. #13
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    Have to agree on these comments, especially the last one, as our clients have started to use IM more and more. And to be honest some of them have never even used IM before and have found their work efficiency increase due to it. They love it being built into Zimbra

  4. #14
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    Default Would like an IM

    Quote Originally Posted by uxbod View Post
    Have to agree on these comments, especially the last one, as our clients have started to use IM more and more. And to be honest some of them have never even used IM before and have found their work efficiency increase due to it. They love it being built into Zimbra
    We would love to see it. We use ZCS hosted through a third party and it doesn't work. This was one of the reasons why I chose Zimbra over Exchange.

    Is it possible to write a zimklet to incorporate a third party client? I would be happy with that at least pro-tem

  5. #15
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    Default Keep IM Built In Please

    Wildfire is a nice IM server; we have deployed it standalone for clients running Exchange who didn't want to have to license Communications Server (or Lotus's competing product, which is very good but expensive too) just to get IM. I was glad to see Zimbra used this for their baked-in IM solution.

    Wildfire is also nice in that you can easily turn it into a "corporate only" (no connection to outside IM services) IM server.

    Since we focus on the corporate market, all of our standalone Wildfire deployments to date have been "corporate only".

    Few of our Zimbra clients running IM have similarly asked for Zimbra IM to connect to outside services. For those who did ask, the request came from lower-level employees. None of their supervisors were keen to open Zimbra IM to outside IM services however.

    So, as I mentioned in the bug report/RFE, while I can see the benefit of unbundling IM from Zimbra for those Zimbra users who are customers of ISPs, edu's and other more consumer-oriented users, for business-oriented users, a corporate-only IM solution built in to Zimbra with multi-domain support out of the box (large companies, not just HSPs, tend to have several domains on their Zimbra system in our experience) provides a terrific benefit to end-users, and an attractive selling point for Zimbra, as those customers no longer have to buy/maintain a third-party IM solution.

    Mike, Zimbra announced after the VMware acquisition that more than 40 developers were being hired. Are there really no dev resources there to keep IM built in AND open it up to outside IM services? What about contributing via the GPL your existing multi-domain support code back in to Wildfire's code base to see if their devs can't take it the next step?

    Bottom Line for us is that we find it very advantageous to have built-in, "corporate only" IM support in Zimbra, but we appreciate that we represent a more B2B facet of Zimbra's expanding, multi-faceted customer base.

    Thanks; we really appreciate the openness and clarity of your posts on topics like these!

    All the best,
    Mark

  6. #16
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    In the meantime, IM is still considered beta and as you'd expect if the feature is turned on and visible, a lot of people are now dependent on it and running into bugs and inconsistencies.

    I'm looking around the site for problem reports and solutions that I can implement.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by hchan View Post
    In the meantime, IM is still considered beta and as you'd expect if the feature is turned on and visible, a lot of people are now dependent on it and running into bugs and inconsistencies.

    I'm looking around the site for problem reports and solutions that I can implement.
    You are right that it is still beta, and we have always advised clients such before turning it on for them.

    But none of our clients have had any issues with it, nor have we had issues using it internally for ourselves. GMail was in beta for years, and that didn't stop folks from using it. For better or worse, GMail being in beta for so long we think has conditioned folks that "beta" now means "OK to use but may not be 110% feature complete."

    Hope that helps,
    Mark

  8. #18
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    I would like to echo all Mark's comments. As a HSP with mostly corporate customers we are in the same boat with regard to IM.
    We have come to rely on IM, and some of our customers have begun to swear by it. I think its a feature that I would go crazy not having now.
    Frankly, for our users, the ability to use IM is above the Zimlet integration, the collaborative editing of documents, and even the briefcase features in Zimbra, simply for the value it brings to smooth the wheels of casual communication in an organisation. Its invaluable in todays modern hot-desking, web based office environments.
    Whatever the technical solution is, it needs to include IM in the web interface, and we need to work hard to gateway it into as many solutions as possible, and be able to control/log access as much as possible.

    There are 'corporate IM' standalone services out there, selling for something approaching what we sell a zimbra mailbox for! Zimbra is obviously way better value, and reducing the value proposition at this stage in this area seems like a really really bad idea.
    Hope I'm not too late with my comments, but I've been busy trying to sell Zimbra
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  9. #19
    phoenix is offline Zimbra Consultant & Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave_kempe View Post
    I would like to echo all Mark's comments. As a HSP with mostly corporate customers we are in the same boat with regard to IM.
    We have come to rely on IM, and some of our customers have begun to swear by it. I think its a feature that I would go crazy not having now.
    Frankly, for our users, the ability to use IM is above the Zimlet integration, the collaborative editing of documents, and even the briefcase features in Zimbra, simply for the value it brings to smooth the wheels of casual communication in an organisation. Its invaluable in todays modern hot-desking, web based office environments.
    Whatever the technical solution is, it needs to include IM in the web interface, and we need to work hard to gateway it into as many solutions as possible, and be able to control/log access as much as possible.

    There are 'corporate IM' standalone services out there, selling for something approaching what we sell a zimbra mailbox for! Zimbra is obviously way better value, and reducing the value proposition at this stage in this area seems like a really really bad idea.
    Hope I'm not too late with my comments, but I've been busy trying to sell Zimbra
    The current IM server is going to be removed in the next major version and is considered Beta quality, should not be enabled in production environments and is not a supported feature (I'm quoting from P15 of the Release Notes).

    You may also want to review this bug report and add any comments you have to that: Bug 45932 – Remove IM server
    Regards


    Bill


    Acompli: A new adventure for Co-Founder KevinH.

  10. #20
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    I have indeed commented on this bug report before posting here. Nevertheless, drumming up support for the cause is important.
    I read the release notes and remembered that this was mentioned in the roadmap, and I figured it would be changed, as I think IM is one of the strong points of Zimbra. I understand the whole 'beta quality' thing, and I agree the current IM codebase probably has alot of problems. Still doesn't mean we shouldn't agitate for an ongoing decent IM solution.

    I will be raising this issue as a support case for the bug reports, and getting some opinions from my customers for added weight.
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