Author Topic: Someone explain the value in paying for Zentyal  (Read 16494 times)

zippydan

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Someone explain the value in paying for Zentyal
« on: November 28, 2014, 05:02:15 am »
Let's start with these basic facts:

1. I love Zentyal.

2. It still has a lot of problems. Therefore, it is nowhere near as polished, reliable, or featured as a pure Microsoft solution.

I have been using Zentyal Community edition for a while now, and I liked it enough, but also had enough problems, that I thought about paying for the supported version of Zentyal to help me iron out the wrinkles.

When I contacted Sales and requested a quote, I was given a price of about 4500 Euro or $5,600 USD PER YEAR.

This price seems excessive to me, for what you get.  What exactly is this a quote for?

Zentyal Premium (for 75+ Users) with 4 "satellite" nodes.

One of my problems here is that I don't actually have 75+ Users, at least not in the sense which I think of it, which is that a "User" is a real person.  Due to limitations in the email system, I DO have almost 100 defined user names in Zentyal (and will probably have more soon).  But I only have about 50 real human users.  The rest are departments.

For example, I have a user John.Doe@domain.com and Sally.Smith@domain.com.  But both of these people work in the accounting department and I want then to be able to send and receive email from a shared account called Accounting@domain.com.  In Zentyal, I have to create a new, separate user for that.  And that inflates my user count and means I have to pay for Zentyal Premium (75+ users) instead of the cheaper Zentyal Professional (less than 75 users).

Microsoft on the other hand, has the perfect solution for this, shared mailboxes: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj150498%28v=exchg.150%29.aspx  And shared mailboxes DO NOT require a separate CAL.

I basically have the following in terms of locations and users:

Office1: 10 users 
Office2: 15 users
Office3: 15 users
Office4: 5 users
Office5: 5 users

So from there come my totals: 5 offices (1 main and 4 branches), 50 real human users, and 100 "users" counting departmental or similar emails.

Now, looking at a Microsoft solution, I would be paying (approximately):

5 copies of Windows Server 2012 Standard = $700 x 5 = $3,500 USD
50 Windows Server 2012 User CALs = $1,500

1 copy of of Exchange Server 2013 Standard = $1000
50 Exchange Server User CALs = $2,000

Total Cost: $8,000

So, since Microsoft licenses per actual human, and Zentyal licenses per username in the server, we are talking $8,000 one time payment and I own the software for life, or $5,600 PER YEAR and I have to keep paying for life. 

I mean, if I wanted to, Microsoft even offers hosted Exchange 2013 from their own servers for $4/user/month, which for 50 users would come out to $2,400/year, which would be cheaper and better than Zentyal's offering.

As much as I hate to give Microsoft more money, I'm really struggling to see the value of Zentyal's offering over a pure Microsoft offering.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2014, 05:08:02 am by zippydan »

robb

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Re: Someone explain the value in paying for Zentyal
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2014, 10:28:16 am »
The biggest difference in your situation is that MS charges _license fees_ and Zentyal charges a _support fee_ Those are very different things and can't really be compared with eachother. After you have payed MS the license fee, and you consider the same support from MS as Zentyal is giving through the commercial support programm, you will be set back a lot more than $5600,- a year for the same environment.

royceb

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Re: Someone explain the value in paying for Zentyal
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2014, 07:59:04 pm »
If it is for email and a support issue you do need to look at it at that cost/support/customer experience.

Many would say that version 4 is not ready for prime time yet as they have many items that need to be resolved/fixed to be a truly fully drop in exchange replacement.  As a sysadmin your questions would be how do I offer the best experience at the best price while reducing complexity.  From the sounds of your setup hosted exchange seems like it would not only minimize your overhead but you also get the other goodies that also come along with it.

On the flip side if you want to get away from the MS platform Zentyal would be a strong leader here and your money would help go to mature this product. I'd put two rough cost/benefit cases together and see which one easily tips the scale for you and your company.

zippydan

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Re: Someone explain the value in paying for Zentyal
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2014, 08:06:49 am »
The biggest difference in your situation is that MS charges _license fees_ and Zentyal charges a _support fee_ Those are very different things and can't really be compared with eachother. After you have payed MS the license fee, and you consider the same support from MS as Zentyal is giving through the commercial support programm, you will be set back a lot more than $5600,- a year for the same environment.

Yes, I agree with what you are saying and I had already realized that before I posted, but I forgot to address it in my post.  Here is what I meant to say on that topic:

With Zentyal, I feel like I need support to get it working acceptably in a production environment.  This comes from the fact that, as I said above, Zentyal still has a lot of problems.

On the other hand I have a lot of experience with Windows NT 3.51, 4.0, Server 2003 and Server 2008.  The truth is that Windows Server is such a refined product at this point, that it simply works.  Except for some very rare extreme use cases that generally only affect giant corporations, you don't really need support.  Microsoft is pretty good about releasing regular patches and updates (that don't break your installations, unlike Zentyal), and for those rare times where something doesn't work right, the web is simply overflowing with forums and message boards where you can either find answers or find people willing to help.

In contrast, I've posted many times here in the Zentyal forums, and I have seen many other people post, without ever getting a satisfactory response to the cause of their problem.

On the flip side if you want to get away from the MS platform Zentyal would be a strong leader here and your money would help go to mature this product. I'd put two rough cost/benefit cases together and see which one easily tips the scale for you and your company.

I do want to get away from MS, but in order for Zentyal to be a viable alternative it either needs to:

1. Provide equal or better features (not happening any time soon)
2. Provide a lower total cost of ownership

It seems to me that #2 is the only place they could compete at this point in the development process, but I don't see the numbers working out that way.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2014, 08:10:18 am by zippydan »

Gopher

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Re: Someone explain the value in paying for Zentyal
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2014, 11:30:22 am »
I think Zentyal has the same issue as many other projects with similar ambitions. Specifically that is identifying a clear funding structure for their product and a feature set and pricing that generates interest in their product. In too many cases the reason for adopting these projects appears to be to NOT use Microsoft/Other giant Corp. This is frankly lazy and is simply trying to trade off the idea that MS is somehow evil and that is is cool or trendy to not like or use them. Instead these products should offer valid business reasons, security, and features that mean their product genuinely competes with MS, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP or whoever it is they are targeting. If they are open source, access to patches, forums and features should be freely available and the payment of support charges should NEVER affect your ability to run the latest STABLE product.
There is a clear obstacle for many small companies to use the closed source Enterprise products they are:

  • Significant buy in costs - but perhaps not for much longer with SAAS products
  • Poor pricing structures that do not scale down to small companies
  • Expensive support from official partners - I'm sorry but its not the same magic voodoo it was 30 years ago folks, time to take a pay cut.
  • Complex licencing models that make it impossible to cost a project yourself.
  • Secretive pricing - PUT THE PRICE ON THE FRONT PAGE!

Zentyal in its current form is possibly the worst example.
  • It wants you to pay fairly significant sums for support
  • It doesn't allow access to the stable product without paying for support
  • The Stable product get its own special patches
  • It's primary offerings are copycat, there is no innovation
  • Its product is unstable & immature
  • It drops features between versions. - I'm sorry guys but even if you can't afford to continue development on a module surely you can leave it in place as it is, all the modules do is setup a config file anyway in most cases
  • Reluctance to adopt a marketplace for selling additional modules and features, despite that being a very easy way of generating revenue and keeping people happy who have lost out due to your roadmap