NetMail Technical White Paper
Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
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Posted: 8 Oct 2002
The intense need to communicate and collaborate throughout the organization and beyond has made e-mail a business-critical application. E-mail makes up the majority of Internet usage today. An estimated 15 billion e-mail messages were generated in the year 2000. According to the Aberdeen Group, an independent market research firm, external e-mail between companies is increasing at a rate of 100 to 150 percent a year.
Many organizations have already reaped substantial rewards by providing their executives, managers, professional and specialty personnel, and administrative support staff with e-mail, calendaring and other collaboration tools. Now they are looking at ways to extend these tools to the deskless workforce. This could literally double the number of users that the information technology (IT) staff must support because deskless workers represent more than 50 percent of employees in the typical enterprise.1
Traditionally, implementing communication and collaboration tools has been a major undertaking, particularly in environments with a large user community. Supporting tens or perhaps even hundreds of thousands of users has meant acquiring, deploying and maintaining a number of high-end servers. User management in this environment has been complex, cumbersome and time consuming. Many organizations have multiple platforms-Linux*, Microsoft* Windows NT*/2000, NetWare® and Solaris*. Many organizations have more than one e-mail and calendaring system, further complicating the environment and placing an additional burden on the IT staff. These factors have made it a difficult challenge to deliver reliable service and acceptable performance to the user community-especially in light of shrinking IT budgets and limited resources.
Novell® NetMail™ provides a solution for organizations facing these and other challenges associated with deploying e-mail and calendaring tools to a large user base. Novell NetMail is a scalable, high-performance, standards-based messaging solution that provides e-mail, calendaring and scheduling across the Internet. It offers a high level of scalability-with proven support for 210,000 users on a single server. It can run on a single server or distributed across multiple servers to ensure scalability, reliability and high performance. It supports the leading e-mail, calendaring, Internet and security standards, and it runs on multiple platforms-ensuring flexibility and eliminating concerns about being locked into a single-vendor environment.
Novell also offers Novell NetMail XE, a simple and cost effective e-mail solution for small organizations that run Microsoft Windows* primarily. NetMail XE is reliable and easy to implement, and it supports standard Post Office Protocol (POP) and Internet Messaging Access Protocol (IMAP) clients, including Microsoft Outlook* and Netscape*. There is no need to install a directory or deal with the complexities of integrating Active Directory* and Exchange. NetMail XE leverages the Windows user registry and automatically enables existing users for Internet e-mail. For more information on NetMail XE, see the Novell NetMail XE Implementation Guide. You'll find it at: http://www.novell.com/info/collateral/docs/4621305.01/4621305.html
This paper provides a description of NetMail XE software, including an overview of its architecture, a detailed description of the agents that comprise the system, and a discussion of deployment on single- and multiple-server installations.
|Overview Of The NetMail System|
Novell NetMail is a scalable, high-performance e-mail and calendaring system that is based on Internet-standard messaging, calendaring and security protocols. NetMail is built on Novell eDirectory™, which has proven itself in more than ten years of operation and is now in use by more than 420 million users worldwide. eDirectory permits nearly limitless scalability and has been tested with more than one billion objects in a single tree.
NetMail supports full eDirectory functionality, including NDS® (Novell Directory Services®) User and Group objects, NDS aliases (for login and addressing) and NDS organizational roles. Through NDS User objects functions, NetMail provides:
With NetMail, organizations enjoy the advantages that come with:
NetMail scales to fit virtually any size environment, from 10 users to hundreds of thousands of users. Consequently, it meets the needs of many organization types, including large enterprises that want to expand e-mail and calendaring to deskless workers, Internet service providers (ISPs), application service providers (ASPs), institutes of higher education, school systems, government entities, and small and midsize businesses.
The multithreaded, multiprocessor NetMail architecture takes full advantage of available server hardware to achieve optimum performance. In a recent SPECmail2001 2 benchmark test, NetMail processed 1,050 SPECmail2001messages per minute-the equivalent of supporting 210,000 users-all on a single IBM* eServer xSeries 342.
Rather than simply throwing high-end server hardware at the SPECmail2001 test to ensure good results, Novell and IBM set out to determine how to optimize NetMail to best utilize the power of a single cost-effective server, such as the IBM eServer X342. The test was run using off-the-shelf hardware and software. Test team members combined their expertise to tune the NetMail system for the IBM server using standard NetWare tuning parameters. (No special software or patches were employed.) The benchmark results are available at the SPECmail Web site at www.spec.org. The results provide details on the NetWare parameter settings used to support this large number of users. NetMail customers can use this information to save time and money in tuning the NetMail system for their environments.
Administrators can manage NetMail user accounts, hardware and software configuration, and security all from a single point through eDirectory. They have a global view of user accounts, which simplifies user setup, administration and support. NetMail offers two administrator interfaces: NetWare Administrator (NWAdmin) and WebAdmin. Administrators who are familiar with NWAdmin can maintain and configure the system using the NWAdmin snap-in that is included with NetMail. The snap-in allows the administrator to create and modify NetMail objects from NWAdmin.
Administrators who prefer to perform administrative tasks through the Web can use WebAdmin, a browser-based interface that enables any time, anywhere Web-based access. With WebAdmin, all activities can be performed via SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connections. SSL support makes it possible to maintain a NetMail system remotely and securely over the Internet.
Support for a variety of access devices
NetMail supports all browser-based access devices. Consequently, users can access their e-mail messages and calendars using whichever access device they prefer-a desktop or laptop computer, cellular phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), or even an Internet kiosk. NetMail also enables Palm OS* and Pocket PC* synchronization of e-mail, calendar and address book data from any network workstation containing the synchronization software and docking device. This extensive device support empowers the organization to extend its network to encompass all types of employees, from traditionally connected knowledge workers to deskless workers, and from employees who work from a fixed location to those who are highly mobile.
Support for popular industry standards
NetMail supports all popular e-mail, calendaring, Internet and security standards, including:
Table 1 lists some of the many standards that NetMail supports.
Table 1. NetMail standards support.
Novell has extended the functionality of NetMail beyond the services provided by SMTP, POP3 and IMAP4 protocols. Extended services include anti-spam, aliasing, autoreply, forwarding, LDAP, anti-virus, rules and calendaring services. Other custom services can be added using the IP-based NMAP protocol and other interfaces.
NetMail provides secure transport, permitting users easy access to mail over the Internet while ensuring privacy and protection of confidential information.
NetMail runs on all popular platforms including Linux, NetWare, Solaris and Windows XP/2000/NT. As a result, organizations can take advantage of the power of NetMail without introducing new platforms that might complicate the IT environment.
Extensive monitoring, logging and reporting
NetMail provides extensive monitoring, logging and real-time statistics reporting. NetMail also monitors the messaging server's performance. These capabilities enable administrators to stay on top of system operation and performance to ensure high quality of service for users.
2 Developed by the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC), SPECmail2001 is the first standardized benchmark that measures mail-server performance using a real-world workload. Details on the SPECmail benchmark results, are available at: http://www.spec.org/osg/mail2001/results/res2002q1/mail2001-20020312-00014.html
|Distributing NetMail Across Multiple Systems|
Like traditional e-mail systems, NetMail can run on a single server-with all agents running on the same server. NetMail has demonstrated its ability to support up to 210,000 users on a single server.
In addition, and unlike traditional e-mail systems, NetMail is not limited to an environment in which all messaging system services must run on the same server. NetMail agents can operate across multiple servers, and communicate using the NMAP protocol. When combined with the distributed nature of Novell eDirectory, the NMAP protocol allows NetMail agents running on different servers (even on different platforms) to operate as if they were on the same server.
Because it can operate in both a single server and a distributed environment, NetMail offers considerable flexibility in configuration.
This is the simplest NetMail configuration because the NetMail messaging server is the only server in the NDS tree. All NetMail components are installed on the same server (see Figure 1). This configuration is typically implemented by small to medium organizations in which NDS is not used for other network services.
Single messaging server LAN
In this configuration, more than one server exists in the NDS tree, but only one server is needed to provide messaging services (see Figure 2, previous page). This configuration is typically implemented by small to medium size organizations in which NDS is also used for other network services
Multiple standalone messaging server LAN
Multiple single-server, standalone systems can be run on the same network (see Figure 3). Each messaging server is assigned to a different domain and functions as an independent messaging system. This configuration is typically used in medium to large enterprises that have several separately managed information technology (IT) departments and Internet domains or subdomains
Multiple distributed messaging server LAN
This configuration implements a messaging system in which message traffic exceeds the resources of a single server, but all messaging servers share the same high-speed network (see Figure 4). This configuration is typically used in ISP, ASP, or medium to large enterprise LAN environments.
Multiple messaging server WAN
This configuration consists of a network in which the messaging system connects different geographical locations, but users still receive messages at the same Internet domain (see Figure 5). This configuration is typically implemented in government and enterprise organizations that have one or more remote locations.
Building fault tolerance
An organization can optionally increase NetMail fault tolerance by implementing redundancy and failover support at either or both of two levels: the application level and the hardware level.
Application-level clustering consists of duplicating critical mail services on multiple servers. Because of the highly modular NetMail architecture and eDirectory replication, critical services can be run simultaneously on multiple servers, each providing the same service to users. If one server fails, alternate servers continue to provide services to users for continuous availability. This provides fault tolerance for most mail services at the application level. The only NetMail component that cannot be cloned at the application level is the message store.
With hardware-level clustering, servers are connected in a group. If a server in the group fails, automatic failover to another server in the group occurs. Consequently, operation continues with little or no disruption to users.
For example, only one NMAP Agent should be deployed to service a given user context and its associated mailboxes, yet NMAP is a critical service and needs to be protected against server failure. Hardware level clustering allows the NMAP service to failover to another server so users can still retrieve their mail in the event of a server failure.
Advantages of a distributed NetMail system
Organizations can gain several important advantages by distributing NetMail across servers. These advantages include:
Supported by licensing and platform flexibility
NetMail is licensed on a per-mailbox basis rather than on a CPU or platform basis. As a result, when moving from single to distributed mode the organization need not purchase additional licenses or copies of NetMail, as long as the total number of licensed mailboxes is not exceeded.
There is no need to purchase separate NetMail versions for different operating systems. NetMail ships with versions for all supported operating systems on a single distribution medium. As a result, the organization can configure NetMail in a mixed environment as a single, distributed system. For example, the organization can run some agents on NetWare and others on Linux, Solaris and Windows-without additional cost.
Attractive in large message environments
Distributed message servers are most often used in larger message systems such as those run by ISPs, ASPs and enterprises with multi-LAN environments. Because of message traffic volume, performance requirements or the local distribution of the network, these organizations typically require multiple messaging servers to provide the load balancing, fault tolerance and speed required to service their customers. The ability to operate across multiple servers and platforms makes NetMail an excellent choice for these organizations.
IT professionals are under pressure to provide e-mail and calendaring services to a rapidly expanding number of users. Supporting a large user base and a growing message volume has required considerable time, effort and money. Traditional e-mail and calendaring systems require the deployment of a large number of servers to support the thousands of users that many organizations have to service. Moreover, traditional systems don't offer the scalability, reliability, performance or affordability that large enterprises, colleges and universities, school systems, ASPs and ISPs, and other organizations need to ensure the availability of these essential tools to their users.
With its directory foundation and advanced architecture, Novell NetMail can support hundreds of thousands of users on a single server without sacrificing performance. What's more, NetMail can be distributed across multiple servers to ensure continuous availability and a high level of scalability.
With NetMail, organizations can extend e-mail and calendaring across the enterprise and beyond, while simplifying management, minimizing support requirements and reducing costs.
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