Email Server Software

Presented to Administrative Computing Committee on Tuesday, September 4, 2001
by David Heise

1. The Problem

The current email server software is unable to cope with the volume of email now demanded of it.

2. The Solution

3. Implications

3(a) For those using IMAP

New names for the mail servers:

Incoming    From       <username>.pop.andrews .edu

                  To           imap.andrews.edu

Outgoing    From       outbox.pop.andrews.edu

                  To           outbox.andrews.edu

IMAP folders are presented as sub-folders of the Inbox, with a + sign in front indicating it can be expanded.

3(b) For those using POP3 With Delete From Server

No change (other than improved delivery performance).

3(c) For those using POP3 With Leave Copy On Server

Convert from POP3 to IMAP.

 

Changes To Delivery of Andrews Email

David Heise
Friday, August 31, 2001

CONTENTS

  1. Introduction

  2. Email Access Protocols

  3. Accessing Email From Multiple Machines

  4. Changes For Users Of Each Protocol

  5. Upgrade Timeline

1.   Introduction

As some of you may have noticed, email at Andrews has been suffering increasingly from periods of slowdown or intermittent interruptions to service.  This situation has arisen because of a tremendous increase in the number and size of email messages being processed.  The server software we are using is no longer able to keep up with the demand, and at certain times of the day, it refuses to receive new mail because it is so overwhelmed.

ITS system administrators have been studying the problem and have a solution they will be ready to implement in a few weeks time.  The purpose of this email is to alert you to the timeline for the upgrade, changes you may notice in the way your email is presented, and changes that may need to be made to your email software setup.

2.   Email Access Protocols

Most people access their email from software running on their personal computer, such as Outlook Express, Outlook, or Netscape Messenger.  There are two protocols for providing access to your account on the mail server – POP3 (Post Office Protocol, version 3) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol).  With POP3, the mail is downloaded to the PC.  By default, it is deleted from the server following each download, but there is a configuration option that allows the mail to be kept on the server as well.  With IMAP, the mail does not download to the PC, but is always accessed on the server.

3.   Accessing Email From Multiple Machines

Make a clearer reference to the inappropriate use of POP

The IMAP protocol provides the ideal way to access your email from multiple machines, since your Inbox and other folders reside on the server.  But it is a more recent protocol, and many people with this requirement have been set up using POP3 with the option to keep email on the server.  With the upgrade we are planning to do, the option use the POP3 protocol and keep the mail on the server will no longer be available.  We will assist those with a requirement to access their email from multiple machines to migrate to the IMAP protocol, if that has not already been done.

4.   Changes For Users Of Each Protocol

One of the changes that are being planned is to migrate all Netscape Messenger and Outlook Express client software to Microsoft Outlook.  This step is in preparation for the implementation of the Microsoft Exchange server for groupware, which will include calendar sharing.  Other changes depend on the mail access protocol currently being used.

4.1       For those using IMAP

4.1.1      Changes To Your Setup

The server names are changing:

Incoming    From       <username>.pop.andrews .edu

                  To           imap.andrews.edu

Outgoing    From       outbox.pop.andrews.edu

                  To           outbox.andrews.edu

In Outlook, this is done as follows:

4.1.2      Changes You Will Observe

When we convert to the new server, you will notice one change.  All your folders will now be presented as sub-folders of the Inbox.  Just click the + in front of the Inbox folder to expand the folder listing.

4.2       For those using POP3 With Delete From Server

4.2.1      Changes To Your Setup

You will continue to use <username>.pop.andrews.edu as the server name for your incoming (POP3) mail.  Also, you do not need to change the name of your outgoing (SMTP) mail server.

4.2.2      Changes You Will Observe

You will observe no change following the upgrade, apart from improved mail delivery performance.

4.3       For those using POP3 With Leave Copy On Server

This is the same as the previous method, with one important distinction - a configuration option is checked requesting that messages are left on the server after being downloaded.

NOTE: This option will no longer be available after the conversion - you will need to switch to the IMAP protocol if you need to access your email from multiple machines.

4.3.1      Changes To Your Setup

If you need to access your mail from multiple machines, you will need to have your mail folders converted to IMAP folders on the server.  Please call the Help Desk on 6016 to make an appointment with your ITS PC Support Technician to get help in making this conversion.

4.3.2      Changes You Will Observe

You will still be able create and populate mail folders on your local machine, all of your folders will now be presented as sub-folders of the Inbox.  Just click the + in front of the Inbox folder to expand the folder listing.

[To ITS: I need a lot of help with the rest of this.  This is only a rough draft at this stage.]

5.   Upgrade Timeline

5.1       Migrate Inboxes for those using POP3 With Leave Copy On Server

Migrate read mail in Inboxes of POP3 users to an IMAP folder called ReadPOPMail.  This mail will not be visible to POP3 clients, but can be read via the web mail until the client software is switched to IMAP.  A batch process has been developed to perform this migration.  When it is run, the workload on the mail server will be significantly reduced since the current technology is severely hampered by the large size of some users’ inboxes.

For the time being, your mail will continue to accumulate in the Inbox after it is ‘popped’ unless you uncheck the option to leave messages on the server

When:

This is ready to run now.  We could run it Monday night, and be ready to answer questions on Tuesday.  What sort of notice do users need before we run this?

5.2       Conversion of POP3 With Hold On Server to IMAP

This conversion step needs to be done with one-on-one assistance from PC Support Specialists.  Users will need to be given instructions and training on converting their home machines.  Once this is complete, the option to keep mail on the server after popping it will be disabled.

When:

Client Services can begin making appointments with users to start this conversion as soon as a couple of items are resolved.

  1. Settle on server names, and prove them with adequate testing
  2. Test Outlook in this configuration to identify and resolve any difficulties, and to obtain support experience in handling a variety of user requirements and expectations

5.3       Convert to the new mail server software

In this step, all server-based email will be converted and formatted for the new mail server software package.  It is following this step that IMAP users will see that their mail folders are converted to sub-folders of the Inbox.

When:

We had set ourselves a goal of September 21 for this when we had our meeting.  I think is might be a little overly ambitious, given the work that Client Services will have to do visiting so many machines, and their holiday schedules.  The relief brought about by moving Inboxes to ReadPOPMail, and then to a lesser extent moving POP3 clients to IMAP, the current configuration can be expected to cope better than it is currently.  Does this make Columbus Day more feasible for this conversion?

5.4       Re-run the Batch Migrate Read POP'd mail to ReadPOPMail

 

5.5       Upgrade the Email Server

Many steps, do it on a weekend.