Webmail upgrades

Jill Martin

In efforts to prevent the Webmail outages experienced earlier in the semester, the Office for University Information Technologies will begin upgrading the underlying e-mail platform over Thanksgiving break.

“The focus of this new upgrade is to stabilize the server with no interruptions,” UNIT CIO Stephen Fugale said.

“The look and feel of the new platform will be virtually the same, but the underlying platform is what will be different.”

The two-year-old Net-scape Messenger 4.15 is being replaced by Netscape Messenger 5.2. The older version causes problems because it does not have the capacity of the newer version.

The University has approved a policy to allow for auto-purging, or erasing, of e-mail in the trash, drafts and sent mail folders. The goal of this is to encourage each user on the network to effectively manage his or her e-mail in an account so he or she does not exceed his or her quota of 50 megabytes. The more e-mail a user has in their account, the more space the account takes up on the server, leading to technology problems like blackouts.

Although the trash folder is purged from time to time in the current e-mail platform, Fugale said the method used is inconsistent.

Any mail in the inbox and sent folders that are more than 60 days old and in the trash folder that is more than 15 days will be deleted from the server.

There are two ways that users can prevent their e-mail from being purged within the specified time limit. They can either create other folders on the server, as long as they have not surpassed their 50 megabyte quota, or they can use their hard drive to save e-mails.

Instructions on how to save e-mails from the purging process can be found on the UNIT website.

According to Fugale, the continuous Webmail blackouts sustained in the earlier part of the semester and intermittently since that time were caused by a combination of factors. “What we experienced at the beginning of the semester was caused by no single error,” Fugale said.

He continued, “The volume of spam coming in and the volume of mail coming in and out of campus, coupled with the fact that people are not managing their accounts, are responsible for the problem.”

The new platform has been installed and is currently being tested. Over break, “We will begin the migration of users from the old platform to the new one,” Fugale said.

“It will take several weeks to do this, but we will do this as fast as we can, but we will not allow there to be any down time on the server. If there are problems during the migration, we will stop, make sure everything is stable, fix it and continue.”

At the end of the switch from users of the old platform to the new one, there will be users remaining on the old platform who are inactive. These may be former faculty members or alumni who have acquired a new e-mail address. These users will be removed, which in effect makes the system run more quickly and more smoothly.

UNIT is using several communication mediums to inform the University community of the upgrade.

In addition to informing, Fugale said, “We are asking people to clean up their e-mail accounts. Doing so will take us less time to change platforms. With more cleanup, things will move faster and we’ll be able to complete the migration more quickly.”

After the new hardware and software is installed, UNIT will attempt to add other features to the platform. For example, a long range goal of the new upgrade is the eventual implementation of a calendar.