One of the strengths, I propound, of Zimbra has been the crowd-sourced ideas, developer contribution, and users' bug-catching, that has been possible through the forum, but especially through Zimbra bugzilla; combined with users and purchasers to be able to at least get a taste of future development.
However, heading down the opposite road to Google, Zimbra opensource looks set to lose these benefits from part of its featureset.
As of now, or in the case of Briefcase, as of Zimbra 9 (JudasPriest) or possibly Zimbra 10 (Korn), the following are being developed separately from the main integrated product:
Briefcase file management and editing > Vmware Horizone data (proprietary, closed development)
IM (beta) > Integration into Voice SDK/Socialcast/other proprietary extensions
Workspace - idea only mooted > now to be provided by integration into Vmware Socialcast
Zimbra Voice SDK features - proprietary, network-version only
Voice, File management, IM, and group collaboration are still being developed and taken forward, but through proprietary means, rather than opensource means. Furthermore, proprietary or not, all these features will (or can someone confirm otherwise?) be in closed development.
So, these features will not be a part of bugzilla, thus will not be easily open to ideas or contributions from users and developers. Indeed, there may still be the possibility of contributing via email or comment form - but that very clearly will not be open development, plus it's bad enough getting a timely response from Vmware for bugzilla or licensing.
Understandably, Vmware wants to recoup sufficient profit from its investments in Zimbra. Vmware appears to be targetting enterprise and large academic customers, rather than small business, individuals, non profits. Enterprise may suit multi-layered, and multi-provision of complex server products - fragmented across different products. Smaller customers want a simple, all-in-one, solution which is still a powerful collaboration tool.
At the very least can Vmware Zimbra, Horizon Data, Voice features, Socialcast integration, and IM, be developed in the open (if not opensource) so that the community can ensure the product(s) develop to suit the diverse userbase, and can contribute, monitor, and innovate?
Also, Vmware would be well-advised to re-consider the needs of small and medium businesses, non profits, government, and individuals, and product users, who need a single payment system for a single integrated product solution - rather than a complex matrix.
Vmware would do well to realise that one of the unique selling points of Zimbra versus Google, and to an extent Microsoft, is the integrated user interface, highly-integrated tagging, and visual unity, and the concept of items regardless of form (whether they be email, call, file, appointment, task, contact) - as opposed to:
- Google's fragmented, messy, and separated apps, mail, files, calendar etc... It makes for an unfocussed and pyschologically-split working environment.
- Microsoft's online/Outlook collaboration environment is more unified, but still fragmented by the separation of files management, and by the extensive reliance of external modules as opposed to built-in features.