In the comments on my redundant e-mail service post, Avi Flax brought up Zimbra as a potential alternative to a hosted Exchange account (for e-mail, calendaring, etc.). Kevin Henrikson was kind enough to stop by and clarify a few things for us:
Zimbra has support for Blackberry over-the-air sync as an add-on in our most recent release. I’m not sure if any of our hosting partners have upgraded yet, but no doubt many will be including this soon. You can see this list for a partial list of our hosting providers… (read the full comment)
First off, many thanks to Kevin for stopping by and chiming in. Engaging in the conversation is the sign of a smart company IMO.
I looked at the Zimbra hosting partner list yesterday but found it rather difficult as a customer to figure out who offered what.
I think Zimbra would be doing their potential customers a real service by having a database of what each partner offered and allowing folks to search through that. Also, I would recommend allowing customer comments/ratings on each.
Since this doesn’t seem to exist, I did the legwork. The following is a list of all of the US Zimbra hosting partners listed on the Zimbra site, along with what I found at their sites:
- amicus – wow, this web site has less than zero useful information. I couldn’t find product details or pricing. There is a number at the top of the page to call “for price quotes and further information.” – I’m guessing they don’t want individual consumer business. Verdict: Moving on.
- Contegix – an “example package” is listed at a base price of $350/month. There doesn’t seem to be a way to sign up – just a sales phone number. I don’t think they want individual consumer business either. Verdict: Moving on.
- Maccius – much better web presence. There is at least a list of features offered along with the service and it includes BlackBerry support. The problem, again, is the price: $35/month for 5 users. Verdict: I may come back to this at some point.
- Milwaukee Microbusiness, LLC – Yay! Actual “per-user” pricing ($7.75/month for 1 user) and features right there on the web site! Unfortunately this page seems a bit outdated as the mobile support has an asterisk with “(*) mobile service in beta, available at an additional cost per user Summer 06”. Verdict: Definite possibility.
- mindcentric – Yay! Another great web page that gives me pricing and features. Unfortunately, this one seems to start at 5 users, and I am only 1 user. Verdict: Moving on, but might call if nothing else looks good.
- OnDeckTech – Nice that they offer Mac help as well. The pricing matrix is great, but the price is not: $22.95/month with “* Additional fees apply, please contact us for more info on additional fees” for BlackBerry support. Verdict: Moving on.
- san mateo regional network – I don’t think I can even sign up here… no pricing, nothing. Verdict: Moving on.
- Singlefin – “Corporate trial”, no pricing or feature information. Oops, there is a $9.95/user/month price on the free trial sign-up – but not enough information to make a decision on. Verdict: Moving on.
- Smedia – Nice pricing/feature matrix. Unfortunately the pricing is from 3 users and up with a $99 set-up fee. Ouch! Also, the same “mobile coming in summer ’06” that Milwaukee Microbusiess had. Verdict: Moving on.
- Sonoma Creative – Nice looking web site. The pricing is good as well – they even show the price with ($8.95/month) and without ($6.95/month) the mobile features. They offer one month free. Verdict: Best looking option to date.
- Voxel dot net – They say they do Zimbra hosting – and that’s about all they say. Verdict: Moving on.
So it appears to me that the individually hosted Zimbra accounts are a lot harder to come by than hosted Exchange accounts. Only two providers offer single user accounts, and the pricing seems to be in the $10/month range (with mobile). This is about half the price of a hosted Exchange account with BlackBerry access, and I’m tempted to give it a go.
One thing that is making me hesitate is the provisioning issues with my BlackBerry carrier, T-Mobile. I can’t imagine that moving from the “internet” account to the “business” account (and potentially back again) is a smooth process. Also, the first sync of data synchronization is always a little scary (backups or no backups).
This is definitely something to think about – I may give Sonoma Creative a call.
hey, alex. i look forward to reading about your early attempts to make this all work. 🙂
Did you check out ZiOffice?
Looks promising for single user accounts.
No, they weren’t on the list of hosting partners. A quick glance shows 2 problems:
1. No mention of BlackBerry support.
2. 350MB is 150MB less than I currently use for my IMAP mailbox.
[…] My Mac Pro is supposed to arrive next week, but I won’t be switching my e-mail usage over to the Mac until I (eventually) get a Macbook Pro, which won’t happen until Merom updates. At that point, I’ll need some sort of email solution that supports two Macs, web access, and a Blackberry. Alex has written about this problem a lot, and I look forward to seeing his luck with Single-User Zimbra Hosting, should he decide to go that way […]
Don’t overlook Simply Mail Services. Even though they are in the UK, they offer 1 GB for 1 user for $7.50 per month, with FREE setup. Price also includes mobile access. They also have one of the better sites, info and functionality. I’m going to get a free trial with someone else and try it out, if I like it I will be using SMS to host. Killer price & no setup, I can send them lots of business if it works out. I will post back in a month to let you know if interested.
A search for “Simply Mail Services” returns no hits, but from your description this doesn’t sound like the wireless BlackBerry contact and calendar sync I’m looking for. Also, $8/month is pretty darn steep!
Alex, you don’t make it very inviting for someone to add comments. If you’re not interested, please let me know in a polite way, don’t jump all over me.
Here are the problems I have with you crabby reply:
1. “From your description this doesnt sound like….”
This is Zimbra hosting with mobile support, the same package from any other hosting partner. What could possibly not sound like a considerable solution when you are considering Zimbra. Give me a brake.
2. “Also for $8/month is pretty darn steep!”
What, I was trying to help you out! You posted your top choice as Sonoma Creative which charges $22/month (for Mobile support with Zimbra). How is $8/month steeper! Geez you are a pain. In your concluding comments you stated that $10/month was about half of what Exchange was. So I reply with a solution $2/month cheaper and you get mad that it is to darn high. You said $10/month was a good deal not me, I currently pay $6.99/month for Exchange (all features, and 1GB), so $10/month sounds steep to me.
SMS is Simply Mail Solutions. Not Simply Mail Services as I had mistyped. It is from the Zimbra Hosting Partners page (as I referenced). You did not consider them because they are in the UK, as I stated. Going off your conclusion I thought I was helping you by finding a less expensive, available option for 1 user with mobile sync. Apparently I was wrong, though I still can’t figure out why you went all sideways on me.
By the way a simple search for Simply Mail Services (which is I spelt wrong) & Zimbra finds several hits on the first page to Simply Mails Services shown aka SMS and they are in the UK. So most techs could not have found it, but since you could write, well, never-mind…
I’d love to tell you what I found out with my trial of Zimbra, but I’m too upset right now, I’ll judge your response and decide. So here is a flame back, enjoy…
Hmm, perhaps you should have mentioned it was a Zimbra account and not just an e-mail provider. Not sure how I got the idea that “Simply Mail Services” would be just e-mail…
Perhaps if you’d given a description of the service, provided an URL or spelled the name correctly so that I could find it with a web search, you wouldn’t have to be so frustrated that I can’t read your mind.
Also, I think you mean “break”. 😉
Flame on if you like – have fun.
Has anybody out there actually using Zimbra for a one user environment? I signed up for ZiOffice last night but they emailed me back later that night saying they have discontinued their offering. I’m really interesting, but I can’t find a single review…
[…] There are a number of providers that sell hosted instances of Zimbra but I couldn’t find a lot of concise, unbiased reviews of their offerings. I did run across a post from Alex King that was very well put together that listed his experiences in tracking down Zimbra hosting information and after reading his overview of each, I chose to give Sonoma Creative a try. […]
Will, sorry about us discontinuing the Zimbra hosting in the U.S. (you mentioned ZiOffice). There were just too many support issues with the connector for Outlook 2003 (most of which have actually been resolved in the latest versions), and we never had enough customers in the U.S. to really make it worthwhile.
Zimbra 4.0.3 (the latest version we have on our remaining servers, which are in Bangkok) and it’s connectors for Outlook and iSync have been *much* more stable – the Outlook version now uses it’s own data storage format, rather than a slightly-modifed .PST file, so there’s no longer a 2 GB limit for local storage (which means you can turn off the “Archiving” feature).
I’ve been using it (obviously!) for about a year now, and it’s been great at sync’ing to both my laptop, and to my mobile phone (a Windows Mobile 5.0 device, variously the Dopod S300/HTC StrTrk/iFlip/QTek 8500), and haven’t had any problems since we moved to Zimbra 4.01. I also like the Global Address List (GAL) for looking up coworkers phone numbers, etc.
So anyway – I think it’s a great product, we just weren’t able to make any profit on offering it as a hosted service.
Good writeup. I’m currently evaluating Zimbra hosts, and have much the same evaluation.
I will add one to your list: Perceiva. They responded quickly and in detail to my questions, and pricing is similar to Sonoma Creative. Their sales rep was persistent (and helpful) without being a pest.
It’s a horse race between Sonoma Creative, Perceiva and Maccius, for me. I may end up going with Sonoma just because they offer demo accounts. Strike that: Whoever can answer my questions on the phone will probably get my energies for the trial account, and if that pans out I’ll stick with them.
Also: I don’t personally regard $8/mo/user as “steep” — not for a package like this, and not when compared to the cost of hosted Exchange solutions. I wouldn’t pay that for myself; but then, I don’t have a personal need for groupware. My company does have a need, and it’s worth it to us to pay that if the price comes from someone we can have some confidence in. I’d rather know that they’re not trimming their margins to the bone and passing the “savings” on to us in the form of poor service and marginal capacity.
$8/month isn’t steep for Zimbra hosting – the confusion above was that the above comment sounded like a recommendation for an $8/month mail account (not a Zimbra account).
Keith here from http://www.SimplyMailSolutions.com (not services 😉 thanks for the mentions. Just to comment on a few of the points.
We sell internationally and indeed a fair proportion, 20% or so, are from outside the UK, many in the states!
We’ve had hosted zimbra deployed for about a year and have found that users love it. We have many companies who started with a single mailbox to try it and have then moved their whole company across to zimbra. (equally, every day we add people on with a single mailbox for Â£3.99 a month no other costs)
zimbra mobile has helped a lot in the WM5 space but blackberry is not supported natively and needs a third party addon which we’re currently considering.
Point taken on simply mail solutions, perhaps we should rename to incredibly-capable-collaboration-solutions.com 😉
Keith: Have you since included the blackberry support with your Zimbra offering, and if not, is there a reason why? I am currently considering moving our company over the Zimbra, but as many of our execs have blackberries, native support would be a real plus. Thanks–JH
01.com an authorized Zimbra hosting provider, formerly OnDeckTech, supports that third party blackberry solution called Notify. You can try their solution basically free for a month, with your own domain, or they provide one.
Also of note: pricing has change with the rebranding at 01.com and is now at 6.99 per month with 1gb of space. They have a ‘personal’ hosting option that is $3.99 with 2gb of space less but you can’t use your own domain name (though if you’re domain is hosted somewhere with email forwarding service you could in theory use that and make it work).
I just recently switched to 01.com for personal Zimbra hosting. I had been using simplyms.com (listed above by Jared), and it was okay, but after a year I decided to check to see if there was anything better. I’ve been using 01.com now for almost a month, and have highly recommended it to everyone I know! It is easily 5-10 times as fast and responsive compared to simplyms.com and the tech support is fast and friendly, and very helpful. I use ubuntu and windows on my different pc’s and 01.com tech support helped make a custom script for me to allow ubuntu to use Zimbra as the default mailto client, something I had not been able to find or figure out in the year I have been using it. 01.com also supports blackberry for an addition fee, as well as smart/pda phones. But it is the speed and great support that makes all the difference to me. I used to want to use Outlook with the Outlook connector for the speed. Now I think using the web client is even faster then Outlook. Keep an eye out for the new Zimbra 5.0 that 01.com says will be rolling out in Jan 2008. It just keeps getting better. 01.com is also month-to-month, no contract, and only 3.99 for my personal account with 2GB. SimplyMS messed up my billing at the end of my 1 year contract and charged me for another year, I contacted them within 5 days, and they still refuse to offer any kind of refund. Even double paying, 01.com is well worth it.
can you tell me who you selected, cause i gotta find a host as well. I agree that zimbra host list needs work. cant figure anything out
I chose Google Calendar/Apps.
Another Zimbra hosting provider is http://www.specialai.com
My company has been a client of theirs for a long time and when they released Zimbra, I was thrilled.
They only provide Zimbra exclusively to their own clients and therefore don’t advertise very much. Their customer support is fantastic and unlike most Zimbra providers, they provide both a simple hosted solution and a fully managed solution.
Fully managed means that every end user has direct phone/email access to an engineer for any email related questions. This means that a companies IT help desk never needs to administer email accounts and provide support ever again. The cost of fully managed is right around the same cost of a standard hosted Exchange solution.
It rocks. Drop them a line and you’ll find them to be extremely helpful. If you’re looking at Zimbra, don’t look any further than these guys.
Ok I am looking at getting a BB for calander/contracts/email. I think I want iMap as I would like to use answer some emails on the BB and some on my office PC and perhaps use web mail in some cases and be able to access all my past emails on webmail and MS Outlook on my PC.
I think I am looking for a single hosting exchange account. And yes I have my own domain.
I am going to give my assistant access to the account so she can make my appointments.
Is the BB the best device? I like the idea of on all the time and I want to use the device to answer my emails.
My assistant will answer most of my email and the ones she can’t answer I will deal with.
What do I need?
Oh you rank #3 in Canada in Google.com for “Single User Hosted Exchange”.
Since you are talking about Zimbra hosting provider. I would be very careful about using Mind Centric.
This is my experience:
This looks like a one man team. None of the phone numbers work. After signing up online their support does not work, sales does not work everything goes to Voice Mail.
Their systems go down so often , they keep blaming the network or the data center power supply.
They do not do back-ups of mails as they claim, and finally when the mail server goes down they do live trouble shooting which cna last north of 36 hours.
Please be very careful with Mind Centric.
[…] Alex King’s blog […]
I have been using Zimbra for almost 2 years now. I have been with 01.com for the later half, I personally use a “single-user Zimbra account” with 01.com. I recently switched to their new business annual account (which actually cost me less, only $49.99 a year).
I am a professional in the computer business (I will not advertise here, but you can google my company Just a Byte and see that I am real).
I have setup over 20 Zimbra accounts for my clients with 01.com. Personal accounts, business accounts, and now their new annual business account. (I now setup everyone with annual business accounts, it offers all the features, and is very inexpensive).
For any individuals that really use email, Zimbra will be a breath of fresh air for you daily. Every single person or company I have singed up for a Zimbra account through 01.com absolutely loves their new email. It is beyond fast, meaning when someone emails, you get it quickly (usually as fast as 20 to 45 seconds later). Zimbra also works with everything iPhone, Blackberry, Outlook, Thunderbird, evolution, Firefox, Safari, Window Mobile devices, etc. It allows all email, contacts, and calendars to be perfectly synchronized across any number of devices / computers / clients without conflicts.
As for 01.com, they are the best company I have done business with in my 20 years of professional work. When I or a client of mine has a problem, or an issue or a question or even a suggestion, they are fast, prompt, professional, accurate, and help until every last issue is fixed. I have worked with them through email, helpdest, and over the phone. They are the only company I can say that every experience has been wonderful. I really cannot say enough about 01.com.
I encourage anyone who is interested in Zimbra to signup with 01.com. They provide every account with a 30-day free trial, which even includes their full support and help every step of the way. It’s easy, it’s really fun email, and I will tell you, that they will treat you great.
Disclamer: I am not professionally associate with 01.com. They host my account, and many of my clients and friends accounts. I recommend them because of their great service, great price, and great support.
Mindcentric seems quite incompetent. We’ve used ’em since October for a dedicated server, and are desperate to find another provider.
brinkser hosting uses zimbra…
Maybe it’s time for you to give Zimbra/Blackberry another shot?
We have a native Blackberry sync solution, and out of beta now. We expect to upgrade to the new GA release of the Blackberry connector in May, 2009 for our Blackberry/Zimbra hosting provider solution. For a single mailbox with Blackberry native sync and 2GB, the price is $9.99/month, no contract, no sign-up fees (personal hosting).
With business hosting, it’s either $9.99/mo extra, or $99.99/annually per blackberry device extra, depending on the term you select, again, no sign-up/activation fees.
There’s a 30-day, free no obligation trial, too, and sign-up and activation are instant from the 01.com secure order form, you receive login info within 5 minutes.
We’re also supporting dedicated BES Blackberry server hosting for organizations with dedicated Zimbra servers hosted with us, and elsewhere, starting from $1995/year.
In Zimbra 6, due out later this year, among other a leading features we’ll support BES self-service activation right from within the domain admin control panel, so organizations can activate their own Blackberry devices themselves, at any time.
PS: Alex, I don’t think I ask you to give it another shot more than once annually…
With Google Apps providing free, reliable sync I really haven’t considered Zimbra in a few years.
I guess someone already gave some praises for SpecialAI but I wanted to echo that my experience with them has been excellent.
They personally helped me migrate all my data from the old email system, we had an issue moving calendar data and they completely sorted out the problem without any direction from me. I basically signed up, gave them some information, and a few days later it was all up and running.
We’ve been using SpecialAI’s Zimbra for about 8 months now, the service has never gone down, it is quick, and whenever I need anything I can call them directly and speak with an engineer. I get the impression that they don’t have a call center, just enough engineers to be able to deal with customers directly which is great.
Just wanted to share my experience. Sounds like some folks have had problems finding a good Zimbra host which is why I’d recommend SpecialAI if you want a hassle free experience that always works.
For our company we used MevMail. They helped with removing our old exchange environment and moving all our accounts to Zimbra. They do all our email backups and offered to help us with our public folders issues with exchange.
Good blokes at MevMail. I’d recommend them to our clients. Also, bonus was they charge us in CDN dollars (we’re a US company) Can’t beat $5/month.