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Thread: A dedicated server?

  1. #1
    batfastad is offline Elite Member
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    Question A dedicated server?

    Hi everyone

    Our SBS 2003 Exchange server will be in need of replacement soon (I cannot wait to get rid of Exchange) and I'm looking to go for Zimbra when v6 is released.
    Currently I'm weighing up the cost of building a new box and hosting it on our LAN, and having our remote users (4 of them) accessing it over our ADSL connection.

    I'm planning an installation of the Network Professional Edition with Zimbra Mobile for up to 25 users.
    4 remote users from different locations in the US, then another 10 users accessing it from our UK office.

    The other option is to go for a dedicated server. That would mean that our Zimbra would be directly connected to the internet which improves speed for remote workers and means we don't have to worry about the hardware.
    Is that correct?

    I'm relatively new to Linux, maybe 12 months experience, but recently used Ubuntu Server 8.04 to build a new NAS device here with Samba/Netatalk and Apache/PHP5/MySQL. I'm comfortable with editing crontab, SSH access/SCP etc.

    I've never looked into dedicated servers before but I've found a couple of recommendations for a company called OVH, and I found this package which fits perfectly into our price bracket:
    Superplan Best Of dedicated server - OVH individual

    Here's some highlights:
    - 2 x 750GB in a RAID 1
    - 64bit
    - Unlimited bandwidth... I realise there's no such thing as unlimited bandwidth, but I think for our email use this should be fine. We're not streaming videos or setting up a mirror or anything
    - FTP backup to their backup server. So we can do full backups from our dedicated server onto their backup at ethernet speed.
    - Gives me a server with a plain vanilla Ubuntu Server 8.04 LTS installation, which I can then install Zimbra onto

    Downside is only 4GB memory, ideally I'd like 8 so I might contact them and see what they can do.

    However I have some questions about dedicated servers in general.
    I've only ever used shared hosting for websites etc or run our own servers on our LAN/ADSL connection.

    1) If the hardware fails, do we have to pay for replacement parts?

    2) Can we open any ports we like on the server?
    I want to make sure that we will have full access to all Zimbra's functions

    3) Should I virtualise the Zimbra installation? So that it could be moved to another server quicker?

    4) Is a dedicated server suitable for this sort of use?
    I guess this is all that Zimbra hosting partners do, albeit on a far larger scale.

    5) Any considerations with using a dedicated server as effectively an SMTP server? Like outgoing daily mail limits etc? Getting blacklisted etc?

    6) This company is based in Europe (UK/France). Can anyone recommend any US-based dedicated server suppliers with similar specs for around $120 and under?

    Are there any crucial things I should be aware of when shopping for a dedicated server, especially for Zimbra usage?

  2. #2
    uxbod's Avatar
    uxbod is offline Moderator
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    Have you considered Zimbra Hosting ?

  3. #3
    Klug's Avatar
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    OVH is a french company that I know (I even have a server rented to them, for hosting demos and anything big to download). The servers are located in Roubaix (north or France, near Belgium border).

    Their prices are very aggressive and the whole thing works quite nicely.

    However, I would not host mission critical application on their low cost servers (single PSU, software RAID, single network attached, low SLA).

    If you want to host your mail server by OVH, IMHO, you should choose a server from their "HG" range (Top of Range) : better housing, dual network attached, hardware RAID, etc.

    Anyway, I think going through a Zimbra HSP is unbeatable for less than 30 users (and I'm not saying that because we're HSP 8)).

  4. #4
    batfastad is offline Elite Member
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    I just looked at Zimbra hosting and it would be cheaper - since we wouldn't be buying the minimum 25-user Network Pro Edition licenses, when we only need it for say 15 mailboxes at the moment. Using a hosting partner would avoid the expense of buying the full license pack.

    However having looked at a few hosting partners, things do get less cheap for larger mailboxes. In Exchange our total message store size for 15 users is 75GB. With 8 mailboxes around 7-8GB. And obviously that doesn't include any space that Zimbra would need for indexing.

    So good news on OVH then, seems they're reliable enough... having looked at the details a bit more I really would want to go with 8GB RAM and hardware RAID so a package like this Professional EG Max dedicated server - OVH individual could be more appropriate

    Some further questions:
    As well as Zimbra on Ubuntu Server 8.04, could I also install Apache2/PHP5/MySQL5?
    So I could run our intranet database system on the dedicated server, as well as Zimbra?
    Or would there be port conflicts/configuration problems? I heard that Zimbra MySQL uses non-standard ports to avoid this.

    Would the above hardware struggle? Our intranet DB is about 50MB in MySQL and it used by 10-15 users on and off throughout the day. Having a dedicated server would give us a hugely improved QoS for our remote users - at the moment they access both Exchange and our intranet over our ADSL connection.

    Also I would look to use an Apache installation on there to host certain sections of our websites - we offer subscription access to various data products which accompany our printed trade directories.
    And also maybe use it as an image dump for our email newsletters and content management system.

    Thanks

  5. #5
    uxbod's Avatar
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    So why not virtualise the two environments ?

  6. #6
    batfastad is offline Elite Member
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    So how would that work?
    1 dedicated server, but basically with 2 copies of Ubuntu installed, each one in a Virtual Machine

    How do you divide up the hardware between the 2 virtual machines?

    When I SSH to the static IP of the server, which VM would I be logging into?

    Would this server package (Professional EG Max dedicated server - OVH individual) cope with such an environment?
    Would it need to be more powerful?

    Is there not an overhead in basically running 2 copies of the Ubuntu Server OS?

  7. #7
    uxbod's Avatar
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    If only one static IP it is going to be a bit difficult If you wish to run ZCS aswell as the normal HTTP server then you would need to have a read of through Running Zimbra and Apache?.

  8. #8
    batfastad is offline Elite Member
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    So the easier solution would be to have 2 static IP addresses going to that dedicated server?
    One for each VM!

    So OVH would give me a server running VMWare Server? Or would it be running Ubuntu Server, with VMWare Server installed.
    And then I create 2 VMs each running Ubuntu Server?

    So effectively there'd be 3 copies of Ubuntu Server running at the same time?

  9. #9
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    It is difficult to comment on a companies service offerings to be honest. What I would recommend is that if you are going to go the dedicated server route then give them a call and explain your requirements to them. Obviously they will be in a better position to advice on their products
    Last edited by uxbod; 10-29-2008 at 05:45 AM. Reason: changed managed too dedicated ;)

  10. #10
    Klug's Avatar
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    OVH is not into "managed servers" at all (even if it's coming slowly), they're into "cheap servers".

    About the space needed on a hosted solution, HSP bill per mailbox size. The price per mailbox per GB contains eveything : mailbox by itself, index, BLOBs, contacts, calendar and backup...

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