Heavy BlitzMail use bogs down network
On a busy weekday Dartmouth students and faculty send about 60,000 messages across campus through BlitzMail. An additional 12,000 messages are sent off-campus to friends and colleagues.
That figure represents about a 33 percent jump from last year.
The heavy usage has forced Kiewit Computation Center to purchase a new $20,000 DEC Alpha workstation which is faster than the current NeXT computer server, said Jim Matthews, a senior programmer at Kiewit.
The new workstation will speed up BlitzMail and can handle the new folder features that let users store their messages on the server.
"Last year the BlitzMail service was divided between five mail servers and one direct server," Matthews said. "It was just saturated. We've ordered another one, of a different brand with much more capacity," he said.
Presently each of the five machines can handle 195 users at one time. The new machine will be able to accommodate 4,000 users.
Last Tuesday Dartmouth network users sent 13,000 messages out of the College to other institutions and terminals around the world. That figure does not include messages sent through BlitzMail on campus.
Most of the mail sent outside the College goes to other universities. On weekends mail use drops to around a quarter of the usual load.
"It seems to me that it has really shot up this year," said Stephen Campbell, a systems administrator at Kiewit. "Classes coming in now are more likely to have friends at other schools who have electronic mail."
"When the numbers first appeared this term I thought it was a chain letter," Campbell said. "Chain letters will just kill this system. They will just bring it down."
The outgoing mail server will also be updated. Kiewit plans to install the new machine by Dec. 25. With a price tag of $25,000, the new system will be faster and more efficient.
"The present machine is getting to the point where it can't cope," said Campbell. The current supercomputer handles BlitzMail and incoming bulletins and Internews, which is information sent through the Internet.