Running on Amazon EC2
I've had a Zimbra server chugging away happily in a client's office for a few years now but they are down-sizing and wanting most employees to be working remotely. Once there are more remote workers than internal then it no longer makes sense to run the server in their new small office.
It's a small server of only 10 users (NE starter pack license) but they currently have ~130GB of mail. Some users having 20-30GB.
These are the Zimbra options I've thought of in order of monthly cost, highest to lowest:
- Zimbra hosting provider. By far the most expensive option, hosting providers seem to only offer 1-5GB as standard then extortionate fees for additional storage. About £200 p/m
- Dedicated server. Quite expensive for the amount of storage we need. ~£100-£150 per month.
- Co-lo server. Actually quite cheap with a few DCs I've found. ~£80-£120 per month.
- Amazon EC2. Amazingly cheap for a medium reserved instance. ~£35 per month ($55 USD)
Zimbra on EC2 works out as the cheapest option in terms of monthly running costs so I'd like to see if anyone's got any info on running Z on EC2.
1) Does anyone actually run Zimbra on EC2 in production with any success?
Or should I just avoid, even with only <15 users?
2) I was looking at a reserved medium instance (3.75GB memory), heavy usage. Anyone think that would give decent enough performance for a small production Z installation?
3) Currently we have conventional SATA drives using software RAID 10 and it seems to work well, though it's a very under-utilised server.
Should I be considering a provisioned I/O EBS volume rather than a standard EBS volume?
3) Does make that much difference to the users what availability zone the instance is based in? E.g. European users all accessing US-East
US-East is a bit cheaper.
4) I believe each EC2 instance comes with 1 elastic IP address. If an instance dies and I have another spin up in its place, hopefully booting from the same EBS volume, will it always use that same IP?
Basically would I use that IP address for the A record of the server?
5) Currently I have all mail being routed through a small remote private postfix VPS relay (only $2.99 p/m) through an SSH tunnel. I didn't want to use their ISP's relay and sending directly from their ADSL IP address is a no-no.
I was planning on still doing this even when hosting on EC2 as I've heard EC2 IP addresses are sometimes blacklisted. Is that true?
6) Obviously Zimbra requires a local DNS server to be running to function correctly. Would running BIND in an EC2 instance cause any problems?
7) Anyone considered using Amazon Glacier for backup storage? I quite like the idea of keeping 1-2 week's worth of backups on the EBS volume, then week 3+ on cheap storage. Glacier is expensive for data retrieval but you generally don't need all that data online. Though I think converting a Zimbra backup directory over to Glacier might be a challenge. Might have to tar/split.
That's it for now. I'd be interested in any experiences/suggestions that anyone has in running Zimbra on Amazon EC2.
PS: I have considered Google Apps and it's by far the cheapest option. But these users are mail hoarders and all are reliant on extensive nested folder structures and shared mail folders. I don't believe that the labels/tags of GMail provide an adequate solution for these sort of users.
You price for a dedicated server seems rather high to me.
Have you looked at OVH / Kimisurf?
I looked at OVH a few years ago and they were cheap. Now it looks like they're even cheaper.
Almost too cheap though!
Where's the catch? Do you use them?
The KS R-8G for £24.99 per month
I know it would be RAID 1 rather than RAID 10 but for this company's usage it would probably be ok. I could virtualise with Xen and possibly put their intranet on the same box.
If anyone has any experiences of running Zimbra on EC2 though then please let me know.
I've used OVH for over 2 years and they've been fine. Pretty much every error has been my own fault apart from when a drive failed and needed replacing. But the raid kept it going until I could get some decent downtime in which to sort it out.
Not used kimsufi so can't really comment. I think they use consumer hardware rather than server but if you backup regularly ....
One major downside I can see is there's no off site FTP backup so you'd have to sort that from somewhere else. Although I only get 100GB FTP so not sure how helpful that would be for you.
Also the network sla is different.
We tried EC2 last year and found I/O to be slow, but we were testing with more than 100 busy mailboxes.
FWIW on our Zimbra Hosting platform (NE Professional) we offer mailboxes with 2GB, 10GB and 50GB quotas for $5, $10 and $15 per month respectively. We have a $75/month minimum. I understand why you would want to run on EC2, especially with licensing in hand already, and if it works out, that's great. If you get stuck, holler and I'll try to help with some of the things we learned (make sure your EBS volume is named with a DNS-compliant FQDN for example). But if you need a big-quota-mailbox alternative, send me a PM and we'll do what we can...
All the best,
I thought I/O might be slow but it sounds like it might work for just a 10 user installation.
Originally Posted by LMStone
Do you know whether the Provisioned IOPS EBS volumes would make any difference to that?
Yes, that should help but will add to costs. Those were not available when we tested.
Originally Posted by batfastad
Also, be sure to deploy Zimbra with Amavis's tmp directory on a RAM disk. Lots of IOPs there as well. The formula for calculating the size of the RAM disk can be found by searching the forums here or Googling for Ralf Hildebrant's Postfix Shrine and finding the article on Amavis RAM disks there. No A levels required to do those maths BTW... :-) We use 1.5GB for the RAM disk but allow 50MB attachments. The smaller allowed attachments, the smaller the RAM disk required.
Hope that helps,