[Dovecot] What would you tell the CIO in an "ABCs of Email" overview?
shiva at sewingwitch.com
Tue May 8 06:13:19 EEST 2007
Perhaps the first fundamental is that Internet email isn't handled by one
kind of server. It's a suite of protocols that are served by distinct
At minimum, you have inbound (POP3, IMAP) and outbound (SMTP) servers. You
may also have a separate authentication server (LDAP) and perhaps other
pieces providing calendaring, web mail (HTTP), and central storage of
client configuration (ACAP).
The different protocols exist not because some programmer thought it would
be cool to create a new protocol, but because they serve completely
different needs. For example, POP3 was designed to support lightweight
disconnected clients. IMAP provides server-based storage of mail folders.
LDAP provides authentication not just for mail systems but for many other
applications. (I'm sure experts for each of these protocols could provide
better explanations. The RFC for each probably has a motivation section
that you can quote.)
An important "slide" in the presentation would show the plumbing that ties
all these protocols and processes together and shows how mail moves through
the system. In some cases the plumbing itself is variable. For example,
spam and virus processing might occur within several servers or within a
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