Yahoo! acquires Zimbra. Enterprise Mesaging 2.0 Sparks Up

In an interesting turn of events, Yahoo! is going to acquire Zimbra for a reported USD $350 million.

This Yahoo! acquisition came out of nowhere. Some expected Google to go after Zimbra, since Zimbra would have been a nice complement to the Google Apps Premiere offering (adding needed offline support, and a more traditional enterprise-friendly blend of installed apps paired with hosted service.) It’s clear that Zimbra needed to be acquired by a larger company in order to get traction with large enterprise customers. Large enterprises like to buy their core collaboration infrastructure from other large IT software vendors. But will Yahoo! be taken seriously in the enterprise messaging market? That’s the bet.

For too long there hasn’t been credible competition to the Exchange / Outlook dominance. (n.b. – GroupWise and Notes are credible competition, but you won’t see any mass migrations away from Microsoft to either of those aging platforms.) Don’t get me wrong here, I like Outlook and Exchange, but we all know the client and the server could be so much better if Microsoft had to worry about a competing product chipping away at their core business.

In 2007, Enterprises large and small can choose between hosted apps or traditional installed software for their collaboration. Most companies “self-select” to one camp or another, based on the CIO’s predilection for SaaS or Do It Yourself IT. There are many great choices in both camps.

Zimbra gives Yahoo! an on-ramp into the enterprise messaging and collaboration market. It’s unclear whether enterprises will view Yahoo! as a serious enterprise messaging vendor.

Let’s hope so!