VMware recently announced the general availability of a Zimbra virtual appliance that VMware customers can simply import into their existing infrastructure and get “e-mail in box”. This is a great concept for administrators because the operating system is pre-configured and purposefully built for the application that is packaged with it. The virtual appliance will import into the virtual center management console and will have the standard "OVF” (Open Virtualization Format) file extension for those that are new to virtual appliances.
I am no e-mail administrator, so I wanted to see how easy setting up the Zimbra virtual appliance would be and provide some instructions for those out there that are looking to test out Zimbra.
Get the Bits!
First things first, go out and grab the download of the Zimbra virtual appliance by clicking on the icon below. Yes you will need to register to download the bits…
Import the Virtual Appliance
There are two methods of importing a virtual appliance, you can enter the url, which is supplied by the Zimbra website once you register, or you can download the appliance locally and import it locally. I grabbed the full download in case I hosed something up I would have a copy of the ovf locally so I could start over from scratch. I guess a snapshot would work as well, so it’s up to you how you would like to proceed here. Below is a screenshot of the import:
Configure the Zimbra Virtual Appliance
The Zimbra virtual appliance is pre-configured to ask you the basic configuration parameters you will need to get the appliance up and running. You can see below are the questions that you will to answer, pretty common stuff if you a IT administrator. Make sure you use the FQDN for the hostname.
Power it up
Now that you have configured your basic system information you can now power up your new virtual appliance. You can see below that it will automatically configure the appliance based off your information you have previously populated. Very nice for a hands off approach and a streamlined installation process.
Finish it off
Now that you are powered up and on the network, you can login to the administration console to finish your configuration. Point your web browser to https://<hostname>:5480 The administration console will be the place where you can create user accounts, configure licensing information, pull diagnostic data for troubleshooting and update the virtual appliance itself.
DNS is a big component of e-mail. If you are doing split DNS or Dynamic DNS, I suggest to reference this link to assist your efforts. I am using a dynamic DNS service at home along with split DNS, so I had to go and update my host entry with a MX record so the world new where to route my e-mail traffic. Once that was done correctly I was up and running and able to send/receive e-mails with no problem.
The last thing you will want to to is license your installation, the nice folks over at Zimbra will give you a 10 user license free of charge. Click the link below to go license your configuration or view some sample pricing on what a fully licensed configuration would look like. Enjoy!