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Re: Scalable Mail solution with NAS

  • From: Adrian Chadd
  • Date: Wed Jan 31 15:30:52 2001

On Wed, Jan 31, 2001, Matthew Zito wrote:

> If you're looking for large scalability AND high performance, my preferred 
> solution would be to have a relational database as the backend, but don't 
> store any messages in it - simply pointers to their location on disk.  Then 
> store the messages without regard to intended username in a hashed directory 
> structure.   The pop3 server then gets the list of new messages from the 
> database server, which could just be a list of filenames.  Then, the pop3 
> server simply has to open the message to return it - it doesn't have to do an 
> opendir().  Also, if you use the filename as the UIDL returned, there's no 
> need to even stat() the file, again saving you a whole nfs call.   The 
> obvious downside is that you can't do a :
> rm -f /users/j/o/h/n/johndoe.mbx
> But, with 200k mailboxes, you should have an automated way to do that anyway.

Hah. Unlink the directory, and do a background fsck every few hours? :)

The trouble with the above format is that you're ignoring any locality
that exists in the filesystem. For example, in Berkeley FFS, files in
a given directory are allocated in the same cylinder group (or at least
it is attempted..)

Which, under heavy heavy load could actually give a slight performance
boost on a non-filled FFS.

I believe there was a paper covering this locality for web caches.
Ah, yes:

"Reducing the Disk I/O of Web Proxy Server Caches" 
  - Carlos Maltzahn and Kathy J Richardson
    Compaq Computer Corporation, Network Systems Laboratory
  - Dirk Grunwald
    University of Colorado

.. some (not all)  of the concepts included there are relevant here.
Other filesystems will have different allocation/layout policies,
and additions such as "hinting" which can substantially speed up
mail accesses.

But, this is off topic, and I digress. :-)


Adrian Chadd			"Sex Change: a simple job of outside 
<[email protected]>	  to inside plumbing."
				    - Some random movie