Infrastructure planning for installing Zimbra Collaboration Suite

    The implementation of any IT solution in the enterprise begins with design. At this stage, the IT manager will have to calculate the number of servers and their characteristics so that they are enough for all users on the one hand, and on the other hand, that the price-quality ratio of these servers is optimal and the cost of creating a computing infrastructure for the new information system is not made a serious breach in the IT budget of the enterprise. Let’s see how to design the infrastructure for implementation in the Zimbra Collaboration Suite.


    The main feature of Zimbra in comparison with other solutions is that in the case of ZCS “processor neck” rarely becomes processor power or RAM. The main limitation is usually the speed of input and output of the hard drive and therefore the main attention should be paid to data warehouses. The officially declared minimum requirements for Zimbra in the production environment are a 4-core 64-bit processor with 2 gigahertz clock speed, 10 gigabytes for system files and logs, as well as from 8 gigabytes of RAM. Typically, these characteristics are enough for responsive server operation. But what if you have to implement Zimbra for 10 thousand users? What servers and how should be implemented in this case?

    To begin with, the infrastructure for 10 thousand users should be multiserver. The multiserver infrastructure on the one hand allows Zimbra to be scalable, and on the other hand, to achieve responsive operation of the information system even with a large influx of users. It is usually quite difficult to predict exactly how many users will be able to provide quality service to the Zimbra server, since a lot depends on the intensity of their work with calendars and e-mail, as well as on the protocol used. That is why, for example, we will implement 4 mail storages. In the event of a shortage or a serious excess of capacity, it will be possible to either turn off or add another one.

    Thus, when designing the infrastructure for 10,000 people, it will be necessary to create LDAP, MTA and Proxy servers and 4 mail stores. Note that the LDAP, MTA, and Proxy servers can be made virtual. This will reduce the cost of server hardware and facilitate data backup and recovery, but on the other hand, in the event of a physical server failure, you run the risk of immediately without MTA, LDAP and Proxy. That is why the choice between physical or virtual servers should be made based on what downtime you can afford in the event of an emergency. Mail storages will be best placed on physical servers, since it is on them that the main number of write cycles will occur, which limit the performance of Zimbra,

    In principle, after creating LDAP, MTA, Proxy servers, network storages and combining them into a single infrastructure, Zimbra Collaboration Suite for 10,000 users is ready for commissioning. The working scheme of this configuration will be quite simple:

    The diagram shows the main nodes of the system and the data flows that will circulate between them. With this configuration, the infrastructure will be completely unprotected from data loss, downtime associated with the failure of any of the servers, and so on. Let's look at how you can protect your infrastructure from these problems.

    The main method is hardware redundancy. Additional MTA and Proxy nodes can, in case of failure of the main servers, temporarily assume the role of the main ones. Duplication of critical infrastructure nodes is almost always a great idea, but it is not always feasible in the desired volume. A vivid example is the reservation of servers on which mail is stored. Currently, Zimbra Collaboration Suite Open-Source Edition does not support the creation of duplicate repositories, so if one of these servers fails, it will not be possible to avoid downtime, and to reduce the downtime caused by the failure of the mail storage, the IT manager can deploy its backup to another server.

    Since there is no built-in backup system in Zimbra OSE, we will need Zextras Backup, which supports real-time backup, and external storage. Since Zextras Backup, when making full and incremental backups, puts all the data in the / opt / zimbra / backup folder, it would be wise to mount external, network or even cloud storage in it, so that in case of a server crash, you should have media with actual at the time of emergency backup. You can deploy it both on the backup physical server, and on the virtual machine and in the cloud. It would also be a good idea to install an MTA with a spam filter in front of the server with Zimbra Proxy in order to reduce the amount of garbage traffic coming to the server.

    As a result, Zimbra's secure infrastructure will look something like this:

    With this configuration, the Zimbra infrastructure will not only be able to provide quality services to 10,000 users, but also in the event of an emergency, it will allow to quickly eliminate its consequences.

    For all questions related to the Zextras Suite, you can contact the representative of Zextras Katerina Triandafilidi by e-mail

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