I'm looking into the possibility to create a search ecosystem of which Zimbra could be a provider alongside with Drupal and/or Alfresco servers. The idea would be to allow users to search through document management systems, remote mailboxes, and various internal websites from their desktop or through a web interface.

With the opensearch suite of modules (OpenSearch feed | drupal.org), drupal seem to be able to act as an aggregator (Authenticated Distributed Search (OpenSearch, OpenID) | Steven Wittens - Acko.net) which could be accessed by the windows key on windows 7 (Windows 7 Federated Search Providers - Windows 7 Forums).

I was quite surprised to find no mention at all (except for a Yahoo press release) of open search on the Zimbra sites.

Bear in mind that I have no experience extending Zimbra whatsoever, but I would like to have zimbra dev's input on whether this is a completely insane idea to pursue (adding opensearch functionality to Zimbra) and which of the following roads seems less insane than the others:
- Talk directly to Zimbra's Lucene engine and wrap some kind of open search layer around it (through nutch?)
- Create a wrapper around the Zimbra SOAP Search API (would the performance be satisfying?)
- Imapsync with an Alfresco IMAP store. (that's the most insane I think)

One of the hurdles I see is how to manage authentication, but also delegation, or even a finer management of permission by allowing for instance to search in other people's emails (ouch) and bring up their names instead of their messages (search "<boss name> is a #$@"), or yet better in specific folders identified as publicly searchable.

Also at some point allowing Zimbra to be an opensearch client would also make sense (allowing to add opensearch servers in the searched object types).

Hope this will trigger some thoughts.