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Infrastructure for One Million Email Accounts?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the better-have-good-spam-filters dept.

Communications 1216

cfsmp3 asks: "I have been asked to define the infrastructure for the email system for a huge company, which fed up of Exchange, wants to replace their entire system with something non-Microsoft. I have done this before, but not for anything of this scale. Suppose you are given a chance to build from scratch an email system that has to support around one million accounts. Some corporate, some personal, some free. POP, IMAP, webmail, etc are requirements. The system must scale perfectly, 99.9% uptime is expected... where would you start?"

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Obviously (5, Funny)

SpiffyMarc (590301) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514109)

I'd start by submitting a question to Ask Slashdot.

Re:Obviously (5, Funny)

CDMA_Demo (841347) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514140)

I'd start by submitting a question to Ask Slashdot.

Upon which the global "wankfest" will commence, leading to solutions ranging from Novell to qmail based solutions, upon which the OP will look for someone else for advice, upon which the OP will end up paying an IBM consultant [] to set up his company's email.

Re:Obviously (2, Funny)

dzelenka (630044) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514182)

Or complain loudly enough to be an embarrasement to Microsoft and they will supply equipment and support to get Exchange running smoothly!

Re:Obviously (5, Funny)

WarPresident (754535) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514159)

I'd start by submitting a question to Ask Slashdot.

Ah, a proof by contradiction, eh?

Re:Obviously (-1, Offtopic)

idonthack (883680) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514192)

I seriously almost had this as FP myself. I clicked on the story and opened it in a background tab, then went and looked at something else for five minutes. I came back, and noticed... there were NO COMMENTS. I refreshed the page, hoping it would still be blank (yeah right) and thought of this same thing to post. BUt of course, now there's 38 comments. Crap, I need to pay more attention. Would have been my first FP too.
If nobody notices, it's not illegal.
Generated by SlashdotRndSig [] via GreaseMonkey []

Re:Obviously (0, Offtopic)

nofx_3 (40519) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514284)

First posts are overrated. After reading Slashdot daily since 1999, I finally got my first chance at a first post a couple weeks ago, but in the time I needed to post in I didn't have time to read the article and therefore my post was less than insightful. Better to have an insightful post at post 39 than a crappy post at post 1.

qmail ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514112)

Oh FP.

Easy. (5, Funny)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514113)

Re:Easy. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514150)

Assuming you dont mind google scanning your internal email achives looking for interesting business information!

New Google Appliance (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514189)

I agree. The google appliance should implement gmail and a web front end for administration. Like the Colbalt machines of yore, only better. Google-ified.

It really is the best email.

Re:New Google Appliance (1)

smileyy (11535) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514208)

I imagine that its only a matter of time before this is the case. gmail kicks the snot out of every other email client.

QMail (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514114)

Exchange is for jews.

OS? (1)

dakirw (831754) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514115)

On the OS front, I'm assuming that you'd be allowed to use the OS of your choice as part of the design. Is that correct?

aha (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514116)

1st post

go to gmail (1)

Argonne (913222) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514119)

Why not gmail?

Re:go to gmail (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514248)

Or contact Google about licencing GMail. They've done this with their main product (search) with the Google Search Appliance and Google Mini. Google might be willing to allow his company to use GMail to handle their email domain, for the right price.

If Google themselves were providing the service from their own infrastructure, stability and scaling are already solved, plus it supports webmail and POP3. IMAP is missing, but if one were to secure a deal with Google that'd be a minor concern that could likely be solved.

Re:go to gmail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514255)

99.99% uptime is why. Have you paid attention how much gmail has been down this month?

Re:go to gmail (5, Insightful)

Chmarr (18662) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514274)

Gmail is beta.

Gmail does not have guaranteed uptime.

You do not pin your companies communications system on something you cannot sign a SLA agreement with.

need I go on? :)

I would start by... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514120)

... getting laid.

I would start with... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514121)

fp bitches!

Umm.. (0, Redundant)

DraKKon (7117) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514122)

With an Ask Slashdot Question?

Re:Umm.. (1)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514151)

Certainly Mr. Openminded, it can't hurt?

woot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514123)


Kerio (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514124)

I would start by talking to Kerio , their mailserver is very scaleable.

I'd start by (4, Funny)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514127)

bashing my head up against a desk.

Um... (3, Informative)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514128)

I'd start by contacting people who know how to do it and can actually help you. A few responses on slashdot aren't going to help you along the entire process. Maybe even bring in a consultant.

Re:Um... (3, Funny)

ugo (305502) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514145)

I think he is the consultant.

bring in a consultant? (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514194)

What if he IS the highly paid consultant?

Re:bring in a consultant? (1)

psyon1 (572136) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514212)

Then his customer is getting ripped off.

Re:bring in a consultant? (1)

airjrdn (681898) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514273)

And that would be different than every other consultant/customer relationship how?

cyrus (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514129)

i believe that cyrus imap was designed specifically for large scalable systems. it can scale to multiple servers and uses a database for hashing the email... (afaik)

Courier! (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514265)

Not just IMAP, but the whole shebang (MTA, webmail, POP3, IMAP, mailinglists, etc), plus you'd want OpenLDAP for storing all those passwords. I'm not sure how to set it up redundant and distributed, etc, but I'd wager that someone at the courier-mta website [] could point you in the right direction.

qmail (2, Insightful)

tadauphoenix (127728) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514130)

I've always favored it, and with some scripting/automation, I wouldn't see why you couldn't scale that large with inexpensive hardware.

Highly paid consultants or....Ask Slashdot (1, Insightful)

Phoenixhunter (588958) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514132)

I have a feeling you're not going to find the answer you're looking for, as the scale you're talking about is indeed beyond the scope of work that most of us work in.

Re:Highly paid consultants or....Ask Slashdot (0, Troll)

thunderbee (92099) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514180)

LOL. Actually, it's my job :)

I designed a system, based on FOSS, that could handle this kind of load, scales nicely, is standard and buzzword compliant, elegant, flexible, and is tested (although not on this scale).

Guess what - I'm not posting the howto here :)

Re:Highly paid consultants or....Ask Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514246)

LOL thats so funny.

thanks for the USELESS inane post you FUCKING troll cunt.

god, if you werent a jew..... hail hitler!

Re:Highly paid consultants or....Ask Slashdot (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514250)

rubbish, you speak for yourself there mate. the first thing to hone in on is the fact that 1 million email account can generate a hell of a lot of traffic, so your either going to need to be on a lan or have a beefy internet connection (home dsl won't cut it etc.) secondly if it's 99.9% sla then you'll need REDUNDANT connections. next is hardware, you'll need caching and secondary dns servers. naturally you will have to lash out on high end raid cards and decent disks (size determined by how much quota you will give them) email doesn't really require a massive amount of cpu speed, i reckon you could get away with a single xeon to be honest, although it might be wise to allow for furture growth and just buy dual capable boards. next step it to buy 2 of the same setups, so that when one fails your backup mx record will go to the 2nd server. software - bind,sendmail,freebsd (the later is just my personal choice) don't kid yourself, sendmail IS the most flexable and powerful mta out there.people are going to want all kinds of weird and wonderful setups and sendmail can give it to you. antivirus, install a good mta based antivirus product.

Re:Highly paid consultants or....Ask Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514268)

I have done that. With qmail + ldap + cheap storage + cheap frontend.

I have more than a million accounts, with more than 99.99% availability for over a year.

If you want, drop me a line at and I'll send you all the information.

For starters... (4, Interesting)

cached (801963) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514136)

For starters, uptime should usually be higher than 99.9% for this large a site. 99.9% uptime means 40-45 minutes of downtime a month. Try going for 99.99% at least, though this usually increases the cost by about 250% according to what I have seen a few years back.

for spam... (2, Informative)

file cabinet (773149) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514143)

take a look here: did=441925 [] .. the post by slidey is possibly the most useful.

For the lazy... (5, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514205)

Here's Slidey's post. (Disclaimer: Copyright blahblahblah appropriate people yadda yadda fair use etc etc don't sue me, thank you)

ok i work for a large uk isp in the messaging (email) operations dept. we currently have 2.5-3 million active accounts (and a load of suspended), and manage anywhere upto 12-16million mails per day

our setup is like this (this is simplistic though):

front line - anti abuse mta's - these do dnsbl type lookups (spamcop, spamhaus and sorbs). we have 9 incoming
next we have mta's. they farm mail off to brightmail servers, which do similar to spamassassin. we have 6 incoming mtas, and 8 brightmail servers (not enough - high load)
after that they farm off to vscans (6)
after that any mail that gets through is delivered to mail stores (8 + 2 hot spares)

what you want to be doing is similar to this above - chaining hte mail from one level to the next. the first level should be the rbl's - these are less processor intensive, and can remove a fair whack of your mails in one swoop. spamassassin is going to be more cpu intensive, since it has to open each mail and read the first x many bytes

id have separate machine(s) holding your master directory, and if you can get directory caches then do that too (to take the load off the master directory) - ours run oracle

i dont know what your budget is, but split up hte different tasks as much as possible. that way if you need to add more to any pool (rbl lookups, spamassassin etc) you just add another machine..

one last thing - we also have a separate box just for postmaster mail (with exim + spamassassin funnily enough) - it tends to get busy

Last edited by Slidey on 09-08-2005 at 11:19 PM
(end of quote)

Easy (0, Troll)

nyquil superstar (249173) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514144)


Re:Easy (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514258)

Exchange? What a great idea!

Sir, I'd like to Exchange this crappy mail server for something decent.

NO GMAIL (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514147)

I would have to say use Qmail on a freeBSD/Linux system. If you look at yahoo they have millions of email accounts and use qmail wich is very stable and very portable.

1 Million Users! (2, Informative)

joesucks (912938) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514148)

Wow, That is pretty huge scale but if Google, MSN and Yahoo have supported that many, and many more users all along open the back doors to see what they are doing? If it were me Linux obviously, Hi-Availability Clusters, some kind of solid indexing. Its still email :)

POP? (4, Funny)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514149)

A million users and they want POP3? Add a gun and a single bullet to your administration requirements.

Re:POP? (5, Funny)

JoshWurzel (320371) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514185)

I'd ask for six bullets. Why would you want to risk getting the empty chamber?

~ 320K accounts (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514152)

At IBM we use Lotus Notes which has saved us LOTS of virus hassles. Every employee has an account and we're something like 320,000 worldwide. The mail "databases" are spread among Domino servers but I don't know what platform these run on, or what hardware specs they have. I imagine it's either Windows or Linux... but who knows, maybe we're using some of our PowerPC-based iSeries servers. These are the boxen formerly known as AS/400.

Whatever myspace uses. (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514153)

I'd have to go with whatever system MySpace [] uses. I can't believe that any system could sustain such a heavy flow of pointless "X updated!" emails to hundreds of millions of users...

The drug-store (1)

jd_esguerra (582336) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514154)

Specifically, the pain-killer isle.

It's obvious (4, Informative)

gulfan (524955) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514155)

Your first bet would be Ask Slashdot.

However, I'd personally ask Google [] . They've done it and even their search engine has information. I found an interesting link from there detailing the deployment of a large hundred thousand user mail system, from the architecture to the software located on Linux Journal [] .

Who to talk to (2, Informative)

Effugas (2378) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514156)

I've heard surprisingly good things about Communigate Pro, though I have no idea if it scales that high.

Mirapoint is probably _the_ vendor to speak to, though.

Not Gmail (1, Funny)

FatalChaos (911012) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514157)

I think they want an acutal company email. so the email reads

Hey! Google is now on Ask Slashdot! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514158)

Hi there Mr. Google!
As gmail user number 999,999 I understand your frustration at not being able to go any higher because you only used six digits in your "user number" field. However, I am available as a programmer and I can probably have your problem fixed in a couple of hours for a minimal fee
Please deposit $473, 921.84 into my PayPal account so it is safe

(By the way, I hope the app is written in COBOL, 'cause that's all I know!)

openwave's email server does this but it's $$$ (2, Informative)

Serveert (102805) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514160)

I'm sure other commercial vendors have it but I do know that large companies like ATT et al use it to handle their email. It's a shrinkwrap product that does it all and then some but it's very pricy.

I'm sure you could hack together something to do this much like what google did. Might take some time but it's totally doable.

Let the vendors do the work. (1)

liquidzero4 (566264) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514161)

I'd call IBM, Red Had or any other large vendor and ask them. If ther are big $$$$ involved which there probably are the vendors will jump through hoops for you. You'll have your own little circus.

CommuniGate (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514162)

Is able to run clusters, and clusters of clusters, and theoretically scale into the hundreds of millions of accounts. Offers all the things you want, and more. LDAP, ACAP, etc, etc, integrated webmail. Intelligent directory creation structures, etc.

Re:CommuniGate (3, Informative)

p0rkmaster (198870) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514261)

I second that recommendation. I've been running CommuniGate Pro for many years now, and I love it. There's a cellphone provider in sweden that is hosting over a million accounts on a single 8-processor server - but for your requirements I'd probably recommend looking into CommuniGate's clustering solutions.

earthlink's setup (2, Interesting)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514165)

earthlink's mail server complex has come up on freebsd-isp a few times

this guy [] used to work at both sendmail and earthlink and he has links to some good resources

beowulf??? (1)

snatchitup (466222) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514166)

Definitely beowulf cluster of "dead" BSD clusters...

No, but the answer is simple in two words....

Geographic Cluster

Please Please Please (2, Funny)

xactuary (746078) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514167)

Let me send your peeps a million .mac invites. Then I'd be set for life! Mmmmwwwhhaaaaa!

If that's too rich for ya, how about gmail invites? Slashdotters could come up with a million of those I bet.

Lotus Domino (1)

jesseraf (230545) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514168)

Lotus Domino is a viable alternative to Exchange, although it's probably not very popular with the /. crowd.

Whatever you do, I think the most imporant part is to think through the migration process. It's good you've already done it before, but 1 million people could mean a lot of angry phone calls.

Good Luck.

Vendors (4, Interesting)

XorNand (517466) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514170)

I'd start with talking to vendors. Consult with some sendmail gurus, Notes guys, etc. Any of these people/companies would salvate at the thought of being a part of a project this large. First, talk to the client and hammer out the real needs with solid performance requirements, timeframes, growth expectations, (meaning real numbers) etc. Put together a well thought-out Request For Proposal and send them out to as many applicable vendors that interest you. Then just stand back and play the role of ringmaster. The vendors will give you all the ideas you need.

Just do one thing, please: make sure that the client is honest-to-goodness serious about this. I absolutely hate getting pie-in-the-sky RFPs from people who are just kicking the tires. It's a good way to burn bridges by not looking professional.

Ask Slashdot? (1, Redundant)

gromitcode (888226) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514171)

If I was your boss and found out your idea to architecting what will be a large investment, high uptime demands and a large user base was to ask slashot your arse would feel my boot followed closely by the pavement. This sounds like a pretty poorly run place, if you need to ask slashdot for this scale of thing then you are far better off not touching it.

Where to start? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514172)

dunno, but ask slashdot is probably the worst choice...

Oracle E-mail Server. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514174)

Oracle E-mail Server. Oracle can easily handle your type of data volume and up time requirements.

This assumes that you'll have the hardware for it, of course.

Where do I start? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514177)

I'll ask my boss to hire someone with a clue instead of me because going and asking ./ is all I could think of.

Split up the tasks (4, Informative)

jgardn (539054) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514183)

There are three parts to your system: sending mail, receiving mail, and storing mail. Keep them separate.

Your receivers will be a bank of servers running sendmail. They will do appropriate spam processing to reduce the amount of mail actually received. They feed the data into the storage servers.

The storage system has the data partitioned out so that all the data for one user would go to one server while all the data for another will go to a different one. The storage system also has to provide POP and IMAP access. You may want a special setup where the IMAP or POP service known which server to go to. Investigate having one giant virtual filesystem so that the system isn't too complicated.

Your webmail access will use IMAP to access the actual mail. It can be a completly different system.

The sending system will be a chokepoint for all outgoing mail. You are going to scan it as it goes out to look for virus-sent emails or unauthorized messages. For instance, you may want marketing email to be processed differently than inter-office email and such.

All of these systems will be running sendmail. I know sendmail has a bad rap for being insecure, but the insecurities have been found and since fixed. It is by far the most manageable system when it comes to large-scale deployments with heavy customization.

Re:Split up the tasks (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514256)

All of these systems will be running sendmail. I know sendmail has a bad rap for being insecure, but the insecurities have been found and since fixed

Just the known insecurities have been found and fixed. What about the unknown ones?

Sendmail is asking for trouble, until they completely throw out the old code and rewrite it from the ground up, with security in mind.

Ask (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514190)

They know everything, they are the "uber" in ubersmart.
Or was it the "goober" in goobersmart?

Novell? (2, Informative)

lorien420 (473393) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514191) is a tech demo of NetMail and eDirectory.

If theyre using exchange (2, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514193)

they're probably using the groupware too. Are they also willing to ditch outlook?

If you're looking for a groupware replacement, then you've got a big job ahead of you. Scalix is a mess, bynari is a hack, etc. When you do get them running things end users end up buying like PDAs and apps that hook into outlook are going to cause more problems.

If its just pop/imap you really can't go wrong. A good webmail option is kinda a catch. Squirrelmail is nice, but compared to OWA its really out of its league.

If your post told us what they were fed up with and how they used their system you'd get some real advice. Expect the usual postfix vs qmail vs sendmail vs whoever mini-flamewars.

exchange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514195)

dont count out the possibility of exchange. If setup properly it can be very powerful and scaleable, and it is easier to administrate then most unix alternatives.

Unless It's A Very Old Exchange System... (2, Insightful)

zentec (204030) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514196)

...they need to think about this very carefully.

I'm sure someone, somewhere within the enterprise is using features of Exchange that they won't get anywhere else. Not to sound like a Microsoft fan-boy sock puppet, but there's some features that Exchange has that people in a business environment just love.

However, since you asked. I'd run Exim or Qmail and Cyrus IMAP.

its a trade-off (1)

jokach (462761) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514198)

My opinion for what its worth is that you'll have a hard time meeting all those requirements perfectly in one product. You usually have to do a trade-off because some systems are more scalable, but may not provide great webmail, while others may not manage free accounts as well as others but might have a great webmail interface. I think you have to get some real requirements as to what are the most important requirements for the email system, and meet them instead of looking for the perfect product, I doubt that you'll find it ...

Easy as W33T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514199)

GPL all the way!!!!

Linux of course. 2 machines. You can use wimax for the interweb.

Did I mention FSF only? Corrupt software sux.

LAMP has to be used, it is sooo much better. Mysql can scale to 1Billion users so its best bet.

Perl should be used for front end as it is fast.
Maybe ajax rendering, but need GPL component as AJax - GPL = SUX.

How to START (1)

jon855 (803537) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514200)

I would start by assesting the budget that you will be using and put nearly all of that into the hardwares that you will be needing to use. I personally would go for a cluster of some numbers / some racks with high speed SCSI HDDs clustered and as well you will need to build a fail safe system so when one node goes down, the roll-over node will take over. For this kind of cluster/scale I would say you want to do main system at the ratio of 4 to one for the roll-over system, such as if you have 20 main nodes you should have 5 back up nodes running at all time ready to assist in case of any failure.

As for the OS, the easiest one to use would depend on you skill level and I would presume that this will involve some flavor of nix, I would go for NetBSD as it's very stable and they have awesome coding for this kind of stuff.

I wish you the best and please keep us informed. ;)

What is wrong with exchange? (1)

pw700z (679598) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514201)

What are they fed up of it about? I think it would be easier to recommend if we understood the current problems. I mean, exchange is fairly awesome: - MAPI for a mail client protocol is hard to beat - The webmail client is quite good - The integration of calendars as such Isn't exchange the benchmark everyone is trying to reach? Why go backwards? I know not everyone loves microsoft, but exchange is really good stuff.

Good place to start... (1)

orionware (575549) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514204)

would be telling your boss that you are not really qualified for the job since you are asking a bunch of people at slashdot.

If you choose to give it a try, give Kerio mail a looksee. I set up four dual xeon machines using a small SAN that supported 250,000 users.

SMTP, Secure SMTP, POP, Secure POP, IMAP, Secure IMAP, and secure webmail. All in the same package.

Uptime? Not sure exactly but I would imagine well past 99% in the 6 months I was there.

actual suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514209)

There are companies that specialize in this, haven't followed them recently, so don't know who is still in business.

Check, another possibility might be commtouch. I once dealt with these and other companies when looking to outsource the email portion of an internet service.

1 mil users, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514210)

commercial sendmail on veritas clustered front end, fiberchannel storage on SAN for spools, probably with an ldap layer providing internal routing and backend for user profile data? -jms

Has anyone tried Zimbra software? (1)

coder_96 (538182) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514220) [] The flash demos look nice anyway.

Been there (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514221)

Done it. With Exchange, believe it or not. 2.5M seats, in a single Exchange/NT environment (not single server farm though - it was distributed...)

You haven't defined your real requirements, nor what 99.9% uptime means, really. For such a large site, generally 99.9% uptime is defined in terms of full site responsiveness, outside of maintenance windows. Anything less is suicidal, and I'd walk away from. Maintenance windows should more than cover your backup windows, planned upgrades, etc. This doesn't mean that you'll use each available window, on, say, Sat night from 8-4am or something, but it gives you a nice window for major planned events.

Try Hula (1)

cplim (70217) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514225)

Novell's created an open-source mail server project called Hula [] that's based in part in part from their original NetMail codebase. It's aim is to provide a mail server that's easy to use and also scalable. Disclaimer: I haven't tried it, but have only heard about this.

Homework? (1)

jeffChuck (818709) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514230)

Are we doing your homework for you? One would have to think that a company of such size in the real world would hire somebody who doesn't have to ask slashdot how to do his job.

Still Have to Engineer it (3, Interesting)

DavidDPD (885638) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514234)

I'm not sure that there is any commerical solution that can support 1 million emails well. Hence why Yahoo and Google have built there own custom systems. Some engineering may need to be required.

For pop3 & imap4rev1, look at: []

Still need an MTA, I think qmail is the fastest, best, but I'd used exim, as its easier.

Database - not sure if MySQL and PostgreSQL will scale with dbmail.

I'd say use FreeBSD, because of the ports collection (Don't linux Flame me). However, something like Solaris 10 x86 (or Solaris+Sun Hardware) might provide a bit better scaling, and HA hardware, SAN support, support in general, etc. Though, a bit tougher on the OSS software installs (In My Experience)

Zimbra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514237) [] look at Zimbra

Try the hosted demo. These guys, and their work, are /is awesome.

disclaimer: I do not work for them, but it would be cool if I did.

Here's my plan and it's the best one you'll get (-1)

wackybrit (321117) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514239)

A million e-mail accounts. That's a lot. You're facing the potential of hundreds of thousands of users hitting a POP3 server once a minute, without taking into account the webmail and any IMAP use (with its associated socket inefficiencies). This means you need a lot of equipment and hacking skills.

So, to handle the load you need a lot of servers. For a million accounts, you might be looking at twenty medium specced Linux boxes. So log into the company's GoDaddy account or whatever and set up twenty MX records for each of the different machines. Now you're ready to do the real work.

Set up a basic POP3 and MTA on each machine. Doesn't really matter which. Sendmail is fine, but make sure to order a book so you can correct any config mistakes over the coming weeks. You also want to install SpamAssassin. Avoid the latest version for certain reasons. SpamAssassin 3 will do. Get this all running on each machine. Assign usernames and passwords to all users and create all the accounts on every single machine (more on this later). Tell all users that any who have problems can get in touch with you, otherwise they might get upset. Try to send this e-mail before the MX records propogate otherwise they won't get it for a while.

As the multiple MX records mean mail will be going to a random server, it is essential every user be on every machine. So how will people get all their mail rather than a twentieth of it? Easy, you set up a round robin DNS on This way whenever a user checks their mail, they'll randomly end up on a different mail server, therefore collecting more of their mail.

IMAP gets trickier in this situation, but I came up with a solution. Since no-one uses IMAP, you can dedicate one box to it. Set up all the accounts there and write a Perl script which logs into all the other boxes on POP3 for every account, then puts the messages into the folders on the IMAP server. Get this script to run (with crontab) every minute.

Webmail will need a similar script, but I leave that as an exercise for you as I've given you enough strategy already.

Good luck!

Book: Sendmail Performance Tuning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514241) []

A good book on sendmail performance tuning, although a lot of it covers the OS.

Then get The Practice of System and Network Administration. []

Groupwise doesn't suck (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514243)

I know it'll get blasted, and I thought it did suck originally, but I am surprised by its scalability and reliability.

It's not free, but it's not dependent on the Linux community either. There is a concentrated and very very dedicated support and development crew. Message store size can be up to 1/3 the size of Exchange, and moving servers around is a cinch.

I'm not a Groupwise admin or anything, but I have been and Exchange guy, and I feel your pain.

pyramid scheme (1)

krelyk (909912) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514247)

at the top of the pyramid - you have your mx servers/clusters... slap on your postfix+amavisd there to filter unwanted crap or cluster some barracudas... those would pass the wanted email to your routing servers/cluster at the middle of the pyramid. Then those would pass the email off to the pop3/imap servers (maybe one for each dept) at the bottom of the pyramid - enterprise-grade, connected to fibre-channel san ... Open source should do the trick if you have the $ to buy the hardware needed but not the software - I hear communigate pro (sp?) is nice if you are looking for something commercial. google for postfix or qmail for some nice howto's on the free stuff...

When all else fails... goto (2, Informative)

pci (13339) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514251)

Using this [] as a reference point (and from recommendations I've heard)...
I recommend CommuniGate [] .

IBM + VMware ESX, RHEL, Postfix, Horde (1)

Semireg (712708) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514259)

As a VPC/LPIC (VMware Certified Professional, Linux Professional Certified) consider using a blade solution from IBM or DELL with VMware VIN (Virtual Infrastructure Node) installed to keep your server OS installations abstracted from hardware. Use RHEL as your guest OS, which will run your specific software applications.

I'd be more than happy to consult a large-scale VM installation.

qmail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514266)

qmail is secure and scales wonderfully

maybe first post?? :)

lotus domino (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13514269)

lotus is great , as a poor BOFH who normaly admins Domino who is now due to the crap employment market admin an exhange set up , lets say I feel pain, lots of pain .
Domino - good security model , easy to implement easy to keep secure , built like a truck and can take abuse , ie mail file size that would annilate exchange , domino does not break into a sweat.
you will handle that many users without hassell
cheaper than exchange
less security hassles
simple and logical to set up
call IBM at the amout of users you have they will be selling their first borns to get your buisness.
good luck and enjoy migrating from exchange

just what is being replaced? (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514272)

I find it hard to believe that Exchange Server supports a million accounts in any sort of configuration that wouldn't barf on itse;f every 30 seconds.

Just what is it this is replacing?

One million accounts, but no Exchange? (1)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514278)

I would have to think that you want support for a setup like this. Your options realistically probably boil down to one choice.

You'll need a vendor with proven big time support and, unfortunately, OSS is not something you may be able to look at.*

With proven installations as large as 400,000 users in a single organization, your only choice is.....Lotus Domino. Pricey though.

* Wasn't Hotmail originally running on BSD? You may want to check it's history.

Gmail accounts... (2, Funny)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514282)

I have several gmail accounts I can give you. Once you have serveral of these you can assign gmail accounts to the rest of your users. :)

MDaemon (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#13514286)

It's a good mailserver ... a million accounts though ...
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