Westnet, an ISP acquired by iinet, had previously used Zimbra so the organisation had some experience of the software in action. While the ISP is a big user of VMware, but Kevin Clarke, the company’s Hosting Manager and John Lanzon, Systems Engineering Manager, said they had no history of running Zimbra at this scale.
“We worked with Zimbra’s professional services to assist with design,” Lanzon told SearchCIO.com.au. “Right now our target market in business is 1-50 employees. We found what they want is their mail to work as if they had an Exchange in their own office.’ iinet’s Zimbra implementation therefore needed to offer the same kind of speed and reliability an on-site mail server would provide.
The design the company settled on sees Zimbra installed across 50 servers running Red Hat and virtualised under VMware’s ESX. Zimbra’s architecture calls for different servers to perform discrete functions, with some operating as dedicated email stores and others handling chores like directory services. Iinet has created pools of virtual servers for each of these functions.
The servers iinet has commissioned in these roles have considerable more RAM than servers it has used in the past, and Lanzon has found this beneficial.
“This is the first time we have virtualised guests with large memory footprints,” he says. This configuration, he says, has let the company “take advantage of the fact we can run fewer hosts, which minimises the administration of ESX hosts.”
“We can also run more mailboxes per virtual machine and fewer virtual devices overall,” he adds, and the company finds it can “get better economies of scale with larger servers.”
The experience of implementing Zimbra will therefore, Lanzon feels, help the company as it manages future data centre capacity challenges.
“We have commissioned a new data centre. Space will be a problem for us eventually but not at the moment.”
When “eventually” comes, Lanzon is therefore confident the company will be able to handle the challenge, thanks to its Zimbra implementation experience.
“This was a good opportunity to rethink our VMware architecture outside Zimbra.”