During the past year, Zimbra has been working hard to get 8.8.15, the next Long Term Release, ready to ship. Zimbra has also made clear that it’s long past time to get off older releases that are no longer supported (take a look at the Zimbra Software Development Lifecycle Wiki for exact End of General Support dates).
8.6 actually went End of General Support (no more bug nor security fixes) at the end of September 2018, though Zimbra did help customers and released a Patch for 8.6 to address CVE-2019-2670.
8.7.11 goes End of General Support on October 9, 2019 and 8.8.12 goes End of General Support on September 30, 2019.
8.8.15 is now scheduled to be released on or about July 19, with Patch 1 to follow before the end of July.
So unless Zimbra extends the End of General Support dates for 8.8.12 and 8.7.11, you’ll have around two months to complete your migration testing and perform an actual migration to be able to remain on a Zimbra version for which Zimbra is committed to provide bug and security fixes. We are therefore recommending to customers the following Zimbra 8.8.15 Upgrade plans:
Starting Right Now
Consider the three alternative upgrade scenarios and evaluate which one(s) are appropriate from a risk/cost standpoint for you environment.
- In-Place Upgrades. Suitable for smaller environments and for Zimbra systems which were originally installed at version 8.6 or later; all providing that the system has not been heavily customized. Unless you can clone your existing environment, there’s no way to test ahead of time if the upgrade will be successful, so if you don’t have Premium Support from Zimbra, or if you can’t afford the risk of extended downtime, this option is probably not for you.
- Side-by-Side Migrations. A brand new Zimbra environment is built alongside the old environment. Using the ZeXtras/Backup NG tools, or Audriga’s migration service, data is migrated between the two environments. This option allows for detailed pre-cutover testing, and so is appropriate for risk-averse companies as well as Zimbra systems that have been in service (and gone through many Major version upgrades) for many years, or, which have been heavily customized.
- “Swing” Migrations. Typically used in larger environments (“larger” defined by either numbers of mailboxes or terabytes of storage). This process comprises first either building new, or in-place upgrading of, the LDAP, Proxy and MTA servers to the 8.8.15 level, while leaving the old, existing mailbox servers intact and then second; building new 8.8.15 mailbox servers and doing mailbox moves from the old Zimbra mailbox servers to the 8.8.15 mailbox servers. Finally, yhe old mailbox servers are destroyed. This method results in essentially zero downtime for end-users, but has the greatest number of “moving parts” and requires careful planning and testing, especially of the LDAP upgrade.
As Soon As Practicable
Once you’ve decided which Upgrade Method is best for your company, or if you want to choose between two, you’ll need to build a sandbox. You can do initial upgrade testing with 8.8.12 (under the covers 8.8.12 and 8.8.15, from the documentation released to date, appear to be very similar as regards to impacting upgrades).
Once 8.8.15 Is Released…
You can use your sandbox to test the actual upgrade/migration to 8.8.15. And then based on the results of your testing, combined with what other users are reporting in the Zimbra forums, you can decide whether to do the upgrade/migration quickly, or to wait for 8.8.15 Patch 1 (scheduled to be released at the end of July). You could also decide to wait for 8.8.15 Patch 2, scheduled to be released at the end of August. That gives you one month before 8.7.11 and 8.8.12 fall out of General Support.
Summary and Key Takeaways
With 8.8.15 about to be released, the time to start planning your 8.8.15 Upgrade is now.
- Decide whether upgrading before or after the end of August is better for your company. (August is a slow time for many companies, so easier to tolerate some disruption during August than September in many cases.)
- Decide which of the three upgrade/migration approaches is best for your situation, or if you need to test to be able to be able choose.
- Build a sandbox now; test the upgrade/migration using 8.8.12 for the moment. Document and ensure you have control over all of the other upgrade/migration dependencies, like:
- Licensing (get a fresh license key and if you have Perpetual, make sure your Support is current).
- Hosts that expect to relay through Zimbra.
- External and Internal DNS.
- Storage and compute capacity (e.g. you will need 2x – 3x your current mail store size to do a side-by-side migration).
- Firewalling, networking, routing and perhaps load balancing.
- Hardware life cycle dependencies.
- Use your sandbox to test when 8.8.15 is actually released.
- Depending on your scheduling requirements and testing results, decide whether to wait for Patch 1 or 2 before doing the upgrade/migration.
- Above all, don’t delay and allow your Zimbra system to fall out of Support!
If you need help with any of the above, feel free to fill out the form below to schedule a consult.
Hope that helps,
L. Mark Stone
Mission Critical Email
8 July 2019
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