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Thread: Running on Amazon EC2

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    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    London, UK
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    Default Running on Amazon EC2

    Hi everyone

    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.

    Cheers, B

    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.
    Last edited by batfastad; 01-05-2013 at 05:52 PM.
    My Zimbra Bugs Wishlist: 16411, 24567, 35676, 36430, 37770, 41872, 43733, 44384, 46383, 47759
    And a way to associate mailto: handlers with a Zimbra Prism webapp

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