Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(May 1997)

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Subject: Re: rejected mail - RFC822 conflict ???
From: Eric Thomas <ERIC @ VM . SE . LSOFT . COM>
Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 01:16:19 +0200
To: KnowlesB @ aol . net, Brad Knowles <BKnowles @ aol . net>
Cc: LSTOWN-L @ PEACH . EASE . LSOFT . COM, LSTSRV-L @ PEACH . EASE . LSOFT . COM, Valdis Kletnieks <Valdis . Kletnieks @ VT . EDU>, Michael Ramundo <sysmrr @ CNSIBM . ALBANY . EDU>, Jeff Kell <jeff-kell @ UTC . EDU>, Pete Weiss <Pete-Weiss @ PSU . EDU>, list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: Message of Wed, 07 May 1997 19:12:52 -0400 from Brad Knowles <BKnowles @ aol . net>

On Wed, 07 May 1997 19:12:52 -0400 Brad Knowles <BKnowles @
 aol .
 net> said:

>    I've discovered  over the years  that it's not  recipient deliveries
>that are important, since large numbers of deliveries typically get sent
>to the  same MXes  (so what  you would  need to  count instead  would be
>number of separate envelopes delivered).

Well,  I've discovered  over the  years that  sendmail people  invariably
think in  terms of  the things that  limit sendmail's  performance. Other
systems have other strengths and weaknesses, and different limitations.

>    We  received  over five  million  messages  yesterday (and  rejected
>another  seven million  delivery  attempts),  to a  total  of almost  23
>million recipients.

So, we do have more than 1/10th of your volume.

>The Internet  side is typically about  half the total volume  of the AOL
>mail system as a whole.

Internal mail from AOL user 1 to AOL user 2 doesn't go through SMTP and I
don't see how it is relevant  to this discussion, other than conveniently
providing the 23M of deliveries you were missing :-)

>    Now, how many million messages did you receive yesterday?

Receive, not  that many. There  are the bounces  of course, but  like any
other large  mailing list  shop, we receive  a lot less  than we  send. I
imagine  AOL is  the opposite  and  receives a  lot more  than it  sends.
Anyway,  I think  what you  really want  to know  is the  number of  SMTP
transactions that we've made, regardless of the recipient count, right? I
can  get exact  numbers if  necessary, but  it's usually  about half  the
recipient  count  (lots  of  small  to mid-size  lists  with  mostly  one
subscriber per  host), so about 2  million and change, vs  your 5 million
SMTP transactions.  Ironically, you had  a much more  impressive workload
when we were talking recipients :-)

>> As a  matter of  fact, yes,  I do think  I could  do better  than your
>> sendmail-based setup!
>    Then put your  money where your mouth  is. Give up your  day job and
>come over here to learn how the big boys play the game.

I have no intention  of either giving up my day job, moving  to the US or
joining AOL, nor do I see any reason why this would be necessary in order
to  accomplish the  stated goals.  Nevertheless, I  was making  a serious
business proposal. I am  not in the habit of saying "I  can do this!" and
then explaining that I was really just kidding to try and impress people,
and could everyone please forgive me. I  was not kidding at all and while
you obviously  think that no one  outside of AOL can  possibly understand
the challenges  that AOL  is facing,  I have heard  that tune  before and
there is  nothing I like  more than a  technical challenge, so  please do
send me  your technical requirements and  we will follow up  on them. And
please don't tell me  that this is a waste of time  because I can't begin
to imagine  how incredibly  momentous your  requirements are  because I'm
just a little boy lost in the woods, this is simply not going to convince
me. In 1987 we had a mainframe  which very nearly had a terabyte of data,
and that  was a LOT of  data back then.  Yes, this and other  factors did
create "in kind" problems as you said, but we sat down and worked on them
until  they were  solved. You  just  didn't get  responsibilities in  the
mainframe  world unless  you  could  sit down  and  solve "big"  problems
without  letting the  numbers impress  you  out of  your wits.  It is  by
applying "big" problem skills to more affordable hardware (and not saying
"It can't be done! It's way  too much traffic!") that products like LSMTP
are developed. I see that Matt Korn is still your VP of Operations, so it
looks like I may be preaching to  the choir :-) Anyway, just take a piece
of desktop, write down all the numbers, however big, add all your special
requirements, and  let us work  on them. Maybe we  won't be able  to meet
your requirements right now, but software is made to be improved.


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