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Thread: Suggestion For Zimbra Licensing for WebHosts

  1. #1
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    Default Suggestion For Zimbra Licensing for WebHosts

    Howdy,

    I'm hoping to be able to work with some folks in a web hosting environment to make Zimbra available to their customers when the Network version is stable.

    What most hosting companies do is give you an account on their system, which contains so many free IMAP/POP accounts as well as email aliases in addition to the primary account you have.

    I think most users with these hosting companies would love to have Zimbra available. And the Network Edition would be perfect, with it's hot backups, clustering, delegated admin, and such.

    However, needing to pay for each user account could go against the grain hosting companies have in place right now. The account owners would have much to gain by Zimbra, but the sub accounts they create, the IMAP/POP only accounts, may be for entirely different projects and often users of them wouldn't require a collaberation suite.

    Would you consider a Zimbra licensing scheme that required a payed license for each "full" account, but perhaps offer free IMAP/POP only accounts (no web access, no Outlook, no PDA sync, just IMAP/POP)? This would allow for Zimbra to fit right into the existing structure of hosting companies.

    Thanks,
    -Eric

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    Quote Originally Posted by andreychek
    Would you consider a Zimbra licensing scheme that required a payed license for each "full" account, but perhaps offer free IMAP/POP only accounts (no web access, no Outlook, no PDA sync, just IMAP/POP)? This would allow for Zimbra to fit right into the existing structure of hosting companies.
    We're thinking through some licensing arrangements that could support this kind of need. But at this time the simplest option for the service provider would be to run one instance with the Zimbra Network Edition, and one with the free open-source version. Given that the free open-source version has IMAP/POP support (as well as Web access), would this work for the scenario you describe?

    We think the Network Edition provides a lot of value for customers & partners who want the commercial support, but as you can imagine, it's difficult to provide commercial support to non-paying users (difficult for any hosted service provider to provide that support to their customers, and difficult for us to support hosted service providers who give away email for free -- beyond making available the Forums, product documentation, Community involvement, etc.). So the free open-source version would seem to be the right fit here. Would appreciate your further thoughts on that....

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    Hi Andy:
    Did you and Jim get the mail I sent on Monday? I tried to summarize our last Friday meeting. I did not hear back so was wondering

    Raj
    i2k2systems.com

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    First off, I completely understand the issue you describe, and am not entirely certain how to solve it. But I'm happy to try and toss around a few ideas and explain my issues further, maybe there's other ways around them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy from Zimbra
    We're thinking through some licensing arrangements that could support this kind of need. But at this time the simplest option for the service provider would be to run one instance with the Zimbra Network Edition, and one with the free open-source version. Given that the free open-source version has IMAP/POP support (as well as Web access), would this work for the scenario you describe?
    Well, here's the problem. With the way Zimbra is setup today, I don't even think it's possible to run them both on the same server. And even if it could, to run a full copy of each uses an incredible amount of resources.

    So, there's the option to run each on a different server.

    What makes that idea difficult is that a good portion of the web hosts out there are simply that -- a small company who pays (often a lot) to have a server available for their customers.

    The idea of running two servers might actually cost the web hosting company more than it would to simply pay for the full Zimbra license for those IMAP/POP only accounts they currently give out for free.

    Unfortunatly, I don't think that turns out to be a viable option to typical web hosting companies, only the most popular and profitable of them would be able to start out that way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy from Zimbra
    We think the Network Edition provides a lot of value for customers & partners who want the commercial support, but as you can imagine, it's difficult to provide commercial support to non-paying users (difficult for any hosted service provider to provide that support to their customers, and difficult for us to support hosted service providers who give away email for free -- beyond making available the Forums, product documentation, Community involvement, etc.). So the free open-source version would seem to be the right fit here. Would appreciate your further thoughts on that....
    I completely agree that the Network Edition provides a tremendous amount of value, and this is where I get stuck as to what to suggest for making this as viable as possible to both you and your customers.

    Alas, not everyone is willing to part with money to obtain said value. Some people really do just want a place to receive email that they can access with their current client, or another (non-Zimbra) web client. Requiring a full license for people just hoping for a place to collect email would scare these sorts of people off.

    I'm not at all suggesting that any company should get into the business of obtaining the Network Edition for the sole purpose of giving out free accounts. Perhaps there's a way to prevent that.

    I was more thinking that, for any paid user-license (a Network Edition account), that with the delegated administration features, perhaps that user could create sub-users that have only IMAP access.

    Regarding support... Right now, hosting companies already do support this, it would just be changing what software is providing the functionality.

    I would also like to think (though there's room for this to go awry ;-) that an IMAP account isn't where you guys at Zimbra would be getting support requests. Looking through the current forums, I don't really see any questions about how to use IMAP in particular (I see some about setting up IMAP certificates, custom IMAP code, IMAP not listening, but those are all generic questions that affect Zimbra as a whole, not a single IMAP user).

    With IMAP, there's only room for two things to go awry... creating the account, or not being able to access the account.

    If the account can't be accessed, something is really wrong, and there is probably a problem with the entire server (meaning the paid accounts are being affected too). If there is a problem creating an account, that's something that should be really straight forward, so that organization was going to be contacting you anyway :-)

    So, since hosting companies support this already (though with different software), you would only see the questions hosting companies couldn't answer. And I really don't imagine there being a lot of them that aren't affecting the entire Zimbra product (with the paid accounts are affected too).

    That being said, two additional ways to handle this come to mind:

    * Paying a smaller fee for IMAP only accounts ($1/yr? $5/yr?).

    * Keep your $30/yr license for Full accounts, allow free IMAP accounts, but provide no official support (other than these forums) until X many licenses are purchased. This option could help you out anyways... I know you guys have concerns that if a company only buys a small handful of licenses, that might not pay for the support they could generate. Allowing a company to buy a small amount of licenses for Zimbra and simply not getting official support might help both you and them out (so, maybe they have to have 25 licenses before they get official support... or whatever).

    The only other way I can think of to handle this is to not run Zimbra as the primary mail server on the machine. This came up earlier in some other contexts, but didn't look pleasant to accomplish. But, if there were some other mailserver running on port 25... it could try and deliver a message if the user exists. If not, pass off the message to Zimbra running on some higher port.

    That could work, but just seems to be a level of hackory that would better be solved elsewhere :-)

    I really don't think you guys would see many (if any at all) support requests for IMAP only accounts, there just isn't a whole lot of room for things to go wrong. However, of the 2nd and 3rd options I mentioned, I'd far prefer the 3rd (requiring X many licenses before being given free support).

    I'm happy to discuss any of this in more detail, and really appreciate the idea that you're even offering the opportunity to chat about licensing, regardless of what licensing scheme you end up going with.

    Thanks so much,
    -Eric

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    Eric,

    You post a few interesting issues. The one that immediately concerns me most is installing Zimbra on the same servers that your hosting clients on.

    Zimbra has specific installation requirements, and is by far a best-of-breed enterprise level solution for providing email collaboration. Now your looking at packaging that into some type of hosting environment and expecting it to play nicely with cPanel, Ensim, Plesk or which ever control panel you happen to be using.

    I can see quite a number of issues cropping up here before you even start to look at provisioning accounts. If the small hosts can afford to install the Zimbra Suite properly, then I would fear the amount of support being requested of Zimbra would suddenly become quite unreasonable for the number of hosts using non-standard configurations.

    Regards,

    Andrew Duck

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    what about just supporting for the "hosting company" and not the general user themselves.. but the people running the accual server its hosted on.

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