We have recently purchased the Zimbra Network Edition but are still in the deployment phase.
Zimbra seems perfectly suited for a Virtual Appliance because it needs to be ideally set up on a machine by itself with nothing else (since it installs its own MySQL, OpenLDAP etc... services and can't be reliably configured to use pre-existing or shared services).
That being said I have several questions about how Zimbra is developing the Virtual Appliance versions:
  • Will they be maintained at the same level as non Virtual Appliances ? The link at the bottom of the downloads page, directs to this page for Virtual Appliances which has as latest version 4.5.4 (DR1). At present the newest version is 4.5.5 and supposedly 4.5.6 was going to be released 2 days ago.
  • Will it support virtual environments other than VMWare ? rPath supports Xen (mentioned here & here) but as far as I can tell the Virtual Appliance offered by Zimbra is exclusive to VMWare.
  • From some posts I have read there are some fundamental difficulties with the Zimbra Virtual Appliances by design. Most notably the inability to use external storage and the pre-configured storage being inadequate (forum thread in question)

I really love what I have seen from Zimbra and again feel that it is the ideal application to be distributed as a Virtual Appliance as it needs to be "on its own machine". I would really like to see it take a path which promotes this feature to the widest number of people (not just VMWare users).

If there is a better place to ask these questions please point me in that direction and I will redirect them there.