IBM Speaker Discusses Experience with Email App. at USENIX/ LISA Meeting

The USENIX/ Lisa (Large Installation System Administration) ’10 Conference was held at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center during November 7-12, 2010. The event supports attendes from the community of large IT systems administration with education sessions, BOF meetings, vendor exhibitions, receptions, and social networking opportunities.  About 1,500 attendees participated at this interesting event.

I attended a talk about Postfix.  Wieste Venema, a researcher from  IBM’s T.J. Watson Center, gave a talk called Postfix: Past, Present, and Future. Wieste discussed his experience that he had with the postfix mail system over its 12-year history. He said that since its release by IBM as an open source mail system, Postfix has gone on to become a proven part of mail system infrastructure. Postfix is used in ISP server infrastructures that manage millions of email boxes.  Wieste explained that after IBM completed Postfix in 2006, development work shifted the focus to expanding its functions, making it extend to other areas and to become more adapatible to changing demands such as resisting external threats from malware.

Speaking of external threats, Wieste made a special observation about the problem of persistant overload that occurs before the smtpd connection filter.  He noted that there was prior work in the field such as OpenBSD spamd, MailChannels, TrafficControl and work by M. Tokarev.  He said that spammers can setup networks of millions of hijacked PCs called ‘zombies’ to invade and overwhelm email servers with spam junk.  Postfix helps email systems resist zombie attacks.

I also attended a few more talks, the vendor exhibition, and two receptions. My observations of this conference made it clear to me that attendees can gain many benefits of the various educational sessions, BOF meetings and personal networking opportunities that the USENIX made available.

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