Global E-Mail System


Umass Lowell has decided that a new e-mail system must replace the existing general e-mail system, running on a VAX cluster running VMS, with a more modern system capable of handling the great demands placed on it and supporting all the current Internet standards.

An important point brought up during meetings is that several units within the University have the capacity to handle e-mail directly and have been functioning well. Those units wished to retain their current systems, augmenting them to support current standards such as POP3 and IMAP. They also help to distribute e-mail processes over several systems, so no one system is responsible for all e-mail.

The requirements put forth:


Hardware

The hardware currently being investigated is a pair of Digital Equipment Corporation AlphaServers sharing disks via DECsafe Available Server Environment. One server acts as a backup to the other in case of failure. Disks are shared across a SCSI bus, and DECsafe is used to handle concurrent access.

Disks will be organized in an array to maximize performance and storage capabilities.


Operating System

Initially, the operating system will by Digital UNIX V4.X. All current standards are implemented either as part of the standard installation or with additional programs widely available.

The choice of the AlphaServers allows possible migration to Windows NT in the future.


Additional Software

Final software will depend on when it is implemented. At a minimum, the following software will be used:

For centralized directory services, an in-house system will be used to maintain a user information and alias database, which can also be integrated with other information such as phone numbers.


Status: 3/5/97

Currently investigating the use of Netscape Mail Server V2.0, which does the work of sendmail V8, IMAP4, and POP3, and allows forwarding to other systems in the current distributed model. Has several advantages:

Unfortunately it does not implement a directory search engine. Netscape Directory Server may work in this instance, but is independant and requires separate maintenance.


Status 3/6/97

My mistake - Netscape Mail Server CAN group mailboxes, not by criteria, but by specifying the "maildrop" when creating the account.


Status 3/7/97

Looks like this system won't support majordomo easily - there doesn't seem to be a way to "include" a list of aliases. May have to feed output to a special script to resend to the list of people.


Status 4/2/97

Not sure of ASE is going to be of help if we use Mail Server. It could be too complicated. Plus, if we eventually "split" the student and faculty/staff systems, splitting the database could be quite a chore, and possibly could not be done without manual "cut-and-paste".