Wabash Begins Campus-Wide E-mail Upgrade
by Jim Amidon
June 22, 2006
The first step in a summer-long process to improve the College’s e-mail communications systems begins Monday night.
Brad Weaver, head of Wabash’s Information Technology Services, says the multi-phase upgrade will affect virtually every component of the e-mail system.
"We’re adding faster servers and splitting e-mail services across several servers to better balance the load during times of high use," he said. We’re adopting a new webmail package that offers improved performance, better user interface, and additional features. In all, we’re investing more than $100,000 in the e-mail system upgrade."
The spring Technology Survey conducted by IT Services revealed some staggering figures: 98.9 percent of all Wabash students read their e-mail every day; 95 percent indicated that e-mail was the best way for their professors and other people on campus to reach them with a message; and on a normal day during the school year the system process more than 90,000 messages.
The survey also revealed complaints about the speed of the system: "Webmail can be pretty frustrating considering how reliant I am upon e-mail all across campus," one student said.
"The problem with slowness is observable at the user level (if you clear out your inbox, things are better, for example), but everyone suffers from other users with large mailboxes because the server is wasting excess resources," said Weaver. "We are experiencing the problem now because last summer we increased student e-mail quotas from 60mb to 250mb and faculty/staff quotas from 200mb to 500mb, a change that allowed mailboxes to grow much larger than previously possible."
The June 26-27 upgrade should have minimal impact on the campus community. However, the e-mail system will be down from 5:00 p.m. Monday evening through 8:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. Users will not be able to send or receive e-mail during that time, but all incoming e-mail will be stored and delivered when the upgrade is complete.
Users with large mailboxes may notice a performance gain, but the main performance gains from this upgrade will be during periods of high use, not during low-use times during the summer.
Users should visit the IT Services web page to learn how to reconfigure particular mail systems.
The various upgrades taking place in the month of June will include:
- Adding a new server to handle the e-mail "gateway" functionality (sending/receiving e-mail, including virus checking and forwarding "address-only" e-mail messages)
- Adding a new server to handle the "message store" functionality (reading e-mail via IMAP or POP).
- Adding a third server will handle the e-mail list processing functions.
- Implementation of a new Webmail system that offers improved performance and additional features such as a calendaring system.
"I am confident these changes will result in a stable, high-performance e-mail system that will serve Wabash faculty, staff, and students well for the next several years," added Weaver.