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Thread: Server Advice

  1. #1
    MrBryce2000 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Server Advice

    Hello, All.

    I am fairly new to Zimbra, but am already very impressed! So much so, that I am helping a non-profit organization plan an implementation, that will allow them to migrate their existing email accounts from their hosting provider's server to their own locally managed server.

    The advice I need is this: the server I am planning to setup will also be the organization's firewall, router, gateway, proxy filter (squid with squidguard), and ftp server. Will any of this interfere with Zimbra? If not, then what caliber of server would you suggest to handle all of this?

    Thank you very much for your time!

    ~ Bryce

  2. #2
    mmorse's Avatar
    mmorse is offline Moderator
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    Default

    I think your going to be happier in the long run if you do a zimbra box separate. Stats on number of users...mail storage needed...planned operating system...etc? (and if you plan on keeping this one big box-internet traffic?) The hardware you planned to use before you added zimbra to your list would tell us a lot.

  3. #3
    MrBryce2000 is offline Senior Member
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    Thank you for your prompt reply!

    At the moment we have approximately 30 users, give or take. That may increase a little in the future. The current users are very email dependent for their jobs, but are also needing a reliable and flexible calendaring option. I don't know the total mailbox size needs.

    I am planning on using CentOS Linux version 5 for my server O.S. The servers that I have set up in the past have been mainly file and web servers, so I will base the hardware specs off of that experience. Here is what I was thinking of:

    - Dual Intel Xeon (or P4 if I must) 2.8 or 3.0 Ghz
    - 4GB of RAM (2GB if I must)
    - Two 250GB SATA Hard Drives (320GB if we can afford it)
    - Dual Gigabit NICs
    - DVD burner (we don't have the money for a tape backup solution)

    I was thinking of a Dell PowerEdge server, or one of the higher-end Systemax servers on Tigerdirect.com.

    Do you think that I should still go for separate servers, or will one handle it all?

    Thanks!

  4. #4
    soxfan is offline Moderator
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    I agree with mmorse; in the long run I think you would be better off keeping Zimbra separate from most, if not all, of the other functions, for ease of install and upgrades, plus security. The hardware specs that you mention should be more than enough to run Zimbra for 30 or so users, with plenty of room to spare. Not sure about the ftp server, but the other things you mention you should be able to setup on pretty low level hardware. I run an IPCop firewall/proxy server for a lot more users than 30 on a Pentium III 730 MHz, with 256 MB of memory.

  5. #5
    mmorse's Avatar
    mmorse is offline Moderator
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    Find out the storage space you need -for both mail and ftp.
    Sound's like your going to be running Raid 1? (do you push for raid 5? - though for it's not ideal for zimbra with over 100 users-yes I know u said 30) Raid 10 fan myself, though I realize that's way out of your expectations.
    Care to give a budget?
    Disclaimer: I'm not endorsing Dell...let's not start brand fights-he picked it
    So a tower (I doubt you meant rackmount when you were planning one box originally)
    We talking the 800/SC series or the 1900/2900 series?
    Email traffic stats, current/planned mail quotas, ftp storage, etc would be most helpful in picking out a drive configuration.

    You did say: "4GB of RAM (2GB if I must)"
    2GB of ram dedicated to zimbra and it'll purr-that will be plenty for your purposes-you shouldn't have to add any at all
    For now 1GB on the other box is probably all that's needed (though you didn't fill us in on any special firewall software of choice/ftp usage) -you can always upgrade to 2gb on that box later.

    I realize that it uses more space & power but you'll be spending less time binding to specific addresses & ports, messing with firewall routing, etc.
    + so much easier when you ask us questions
    Your external dns/mx records all in place?
    Last edited by mmorse; 07-30-2007 at 08:10 PM.

  6. #6
    MrBryce2000 is offline Senior Member
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    Ok, I'll try to be as specific as I can.


    1.) I was hoping that I could have everything on one server so that I wouldn't have to worry about any special firewall and DNS configurations (plus we only have the physical room for one more server).

    2.) We already have a simple Windows 2003 server that is handling file serving, authentication, print serving, and church database software.

    3.) Currently, the email is just POP3 from their hosting provider. I won't know the storage needs until I export everybody's Outlook to .pst and calculate it myself. FTP may end up being around 4GB, give or take.

    4.) With two hard drives, I am planning to have one as my main, and the second as storage/backup. No RAID or mirroring.

    5.) We're a church, you can probably guess the importance for how much money we need to save on this project. The budget is really tight (for example, they are just using a regular home router for their DSL).

    6.) Yes, I was thinking of a tower for the server. I don't think our rack would be strong enough (it bolts to the wall).

    7.) I can't tell you any specific stats yet. We're just starting this, and I'm trying to get a hold of their hosting provider for that information. I'm still busy resurrecting their network as it is. I do know that they would "die" without email. Does that give you an idea? If I had to estimate, I would guess that each user receives between 20 - 40 emails per day. I know that's a large range, but it obviously depends upon the type of user.

    8.) Again, it's all about money. If 2GB of RAM will do it, then we'll go with that.

    9.) I agree, I don't want to start and brand wars, but I've never had any trouble with the Dell servers that I've used.

    10.) For firewall, I'll be using IPTABLES, for the proxy, Squid and SquidGuard, for the FTP server, ProFTP or VSFTP.


    Thank you all again for your help!! I hope the above information will answer most of your questions.

  7. #7
    soxfan is offline Moderator
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    Not to get too far off the Zimbra track, but for the firewall part of the software I highly recommend that you check out IPCop. It is basically a nice web-based GUI front-end to a stripped down Linux kernel and iptables based firewall. It is super easy to install and administer. You can literally a basic install up and running within a half an hour, and that is being conservative. It is open source software and freely available. There are a bunch of what they refer to as "add-ons" available for things like squid with squidguard. The hardware specs for it are very low. You can safely run it on an old desktop PC. Being a church perhaps you can get some people to donate an old PC or two. If you can get two, set one up as a primary and configure the other as a backup then throw it in a closet or something in case of problems.

    My other concern would be your FTP server requirement. For security purposes I definitely would not run it on the same box as your firewall. I'd also have reservations about running it on the Zimbra server, but I guess there are things you could do to secure it. I don't think you would run into any port conflicts or anything like that.

    Just my 2 cents.

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    mmorse's Avatar
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  9. #9
    VJM
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    Default Server Advice

    Hi Bryce,

    I would Recommend trying out the latest version of Vmware server. My company has one server, a Compaq DL360G3 with dual Xeon 2.8Ghz and 4GB ram. We keep it in a secure collocation environment. We run Zimbra for mail and Apache/Mysql for our inventory management system. I agree that keeping zimbra on its own server is the best option but putting another 1U server in is out of the question. I have a very minimalistic Gentoo install on the physical host system running only vmware-server. I can then run 2 VM guest system on top of that. The Zimbra server I allocate 2 CPUs and 2.5GB of ram and 1CPU and 1GB of ram to the web server. I have 10 users on the Zimbra server, most of them get about 500+ emails a day. My business is completely dependent on email. Zimbra handles it with no problems. The best part is backup is a breeze and if I have to upgrade Zimbra or my web server I can upgraded it on a copy of the Zimbra server and test it out before I put the updated server online. Also if I were to have a hardware failure on my server, my hosting company can take on eof my nightly backups and start it on a temporary server while I fix my server. This keeps my downtime to a minimum. I would highly recommend this setup.
    Last edited by VJM; 09-08-2007 at 07:47 AM.
    Victor J Matherly
    Wave Communications, Inc
    http://www.wave-communications.com

  10. #10
    dwmtractor's Avatar
    dwmtractor is offline Moderator
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    Default Old boxes but more of them would save you some grief. . .

    Hey Bryce,

    I know you're trying to save on physical space, but seriously consider breaking your needs into separate boxes. I run a firewall for around 50 users on a Pentium 4 2.4GHz with 512 MB RAM for a double-T1 connection with four site-to-site VPN connections, and that box doesn't even break a sweat. So if you're on DSL you can get away with a lot less than that; my home DSL network uses an old 833 MHz Pentium III and gives clean solid throughput. In both cases I run a firewall called Astaro which, while only free for home use, has an excellent GUI and all the admin tools you'll ever need, as well as proxies, filtering of sundry sorts, and very secure VPN.

    I am a STRONG believer in keeping things like mail, ftp, web, etc. on a different machine than your firewall if for no other reason than because the applications on one are made to keep people out, and the others are made to let people in. The less things that are available to the world on your gateway machine, the less likely it is to be compromised.

    Of course as VJM suggested, you could break these functions apart on a master-box by using VMWare, but seriously take a look at older, retired PCs for both firewall and ftp; neither needs top-end horsepower.

    Finally, particularly as cheap as SATA drives are, I would heartily recommend you consider some sort of RAID mirror so that if a hdd goes down you haven't lost it all. In my experience the hard drive has been the weak link in most of my always-on machines, and having a mirrored array (RAID-1, or RAID-10 if you can afford it) will save you oodles of pain.

    Dan

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