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).

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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 and 8.8.12 go End of General Support on December 31, 2019. After that, no more bug nor security fixes.

8.8.15 was released on 23 July 2019, with monthly Patches released towards the end of every month.

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 your environment.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. “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, the 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 running Zimbra 8.8.15.

The 8.8.15 Release Notes and Administration Guide contain some very important information:

  • Zimbra Talk is replaced with Zimbra Connect, a fully fledged corporate instant messaging platform inside the Zimbra WebClient, including Group and Corporate Messaging, File Sharing (with Patch 2), Screen Sharing and informal Video Chat capabilities, and a future Mobile App integration.
  • The new Hierarchical Address Book feature is GA, and documented in the updated online Administration Guide.
  • HTML Sanitization has been updated, and the issues from the new OWASP sanitizer that appeared in 8.8.12 appear to have been addressed.
  • There are many other fixed issues, updates and enhancements for a number of Zimbra’s components.
  • Blobless backups are now GA.
  • Zimbra Drive v2 is now GA, and can replace the Zimbra Briefcase if you wish.  Zimbra Drive also integrates with Zimbra Docs to enable collaborative editing of Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations.
  • The ABQ Service (Allow, Block, Quarantine) is now fully GA. ABQ allows for more granular control over the mobile devices that are authorized to connect to a user’s Zimbra account.  This provides an extra level of protection above Two-Factor Authentication in the event a mailbox account is compromised.  Zimbra’s Mobile Device Management capabilities remain in place, allowing Remote Wipe and other control over mobile devices connecting to Zimbra.

Now That 8.8.15 Has Been 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 at the end of August. Waiting for Patch 1 however gives you at most one month before 8.7.11 and 8.8.12 fall out of General Support.

Summary and Key Takeaways
With 8.8.15 now available, the time to start planning your 8.8.15 Upgrade is now.

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. Build a sandbox now; test the upgrade/migration to 8.8.15 using your method(s) of choice. Document and ensure you have control over all of the other upgrade/migration dependencies, like:
    1. Licensing (get a fresh license key and if you have Perpetual, make sure your Support is current).
    2. Hosts that expect to relay through Zimbra.
    3. External and Internal DNS.
    4. Storage and compute capacity (e.g. you will need 2x – 3x your current mail store size to do a side-by-side migration).
    5. Firewalling, networking, routing and perhaps load balancing.
    6. Hardware life cycle dependencies.
  4. Review the Release Notes and the updated Admin Guide carefully; there’s a lot of new/updated kit in this version.
  5. Depending on your scheduling requirements and testing results, decide whether to wait for Patch 1 or not before doing the upgrade/migration.
  6. 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
Updated 6 October 2019

The information provided in this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only. The views expressed herein are those of Mr. Stone personally. The contents of this site are not intended as advice for any purpose and are subject to change without notice. Mission Critical Email makes no warranties of any kind regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site, and we make no representations regarding whether such information is up-to-date or applicable to any particular situation. All copyrights are reserved by Mr. Stone. Any portion of the material on this site may be used for personal or educational purposes provided appropriate attribution is given to Mr. Stone and this blog.