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> Email service - Technical Details
Email service - Technical Details
Why was a change necessary?
- All messages sent into, out of and around WHOI must pass through
a Silicon Graphics Challenge S machine (locked into Irix 6.2),
mail.whoi.edu. This machine was first installed about six years
ago when the number of messages sent, received and saved by
the WHOI community was much smaller. This growth, coupled with
an increase in the size of the typical message, has resulted
in decreased responsiveness of the overall system despite additional
servers (mail2 and mail3) that have been added to assist the
original one. The best solution was to remove the original email
- The email software we are currently using, Netscape SuiteSpot
v.3.x is no longer supported, limiting CIS's ability to maintain
a secure and reliable email system.
How are the new mail servers configured?
There are two Sun Microsystems dual processor systems
which are configured as IMAP servers ("mailboxes") to store your
email messages. Each server has large amount of memory and disk
storage and multiple features to protect against problems due
to hardware failures. During normal operations each server will
provide mail to about 1/2 of the Institution, but either could
take over the entire load if necessary. In addition there are
two Linux servers ("mail sorters") which alternately have the
task of sending and receiving new messages, although either could
do the job alone should the other fail.
Based on the server names, don't you have 26 new mail servers?
We chose the naming convention to allow us greater flexibility
in future upgrades without needing to change client settings.
Each of the 26 names mail?.whoi.edu (where ? is the first letter
of the account username) is an alias referring to one of the two
Sun Microsystems computers used as IMAP servers. By utilizing
aliases, the hardware storing the email messages can be changed
without anyone noticing. It also means that if one of the mail
server computers needs maintenance all of its accounts can be
quickly redirected to another one. If additional servers are needed
to share the load, they can be added transparently as needed.
By the way, the outbox.whoi.edu name is also an alias and
it refers to the computer systems assigned to process new mail
messages, currently the 2 Linux systems mentioned above. We
are using Round Robin DNS coupled with a short TTL on the DNS
entries to alternate between the two computers.
You said IMAP clients will work, but can I continue to use POP
instead of IMAP?
Yes, we have verified that POP will work with the new
systems. If you need to have all of your new messages downloaded
to your local computer when you connect to the email server, then
you prefer POP. If you do not require this feature, we prefer
that you use the IMAP setting.