October 2001

Summer Email System Upgrade
During the summer ITSS staff reworked our electronic mail system to improve reliability and increase the load that it can handle. The ITSS email system is comprised of nine servers at this time, each one doing a specific part of the email process. Please read on if you want some more technical details.

At the heart of the service is one large server that accepts incoming mail from both on-campus and off-campus and delivers the mail to your inbox. This Sun server has four SPARC technology central processing units (CPUs), each running at 450 megahertz, and about 4 gigabytes of memory. Last year the system had only two CPUs and a smaller amount of memory.

A second server now that delivers email to off-campus sites. There are often delays sending to remote sites, depending on load on the Internet and the servers involved. Separating the on-campus delivery of email from off-campus speeds up the processing for on-campus delivery.

The other seven servers are involved when you are reading your email. Access to read email is done via client programs and central systems. Our client base is using Mulberry, Eudora, IMP (web based), Outlook, central systems (such as ub or bulldog), or some other email package. Each of these packages uses a protocol to obtain the mail from the system, such as IMAP or POP. The seven servers share the email reading load on a round robin basis.

The delays that were seen last year were primarily the result of overload on the two CPU systems. However, last year we also only had five email reading servers, and sometimes these were overloaded as well. Our goal is to keep well ahead of the email demand, and our systems have responded well so far this academic year.


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