specs & platform for new server

J. Bishop mailscanner at CPYOU.COM
Fri Nov 19 01:33:59 GMT 2004

Since reading this and other related threads of late, I have to revisit my
server design guidelines.  I administrate 5 production MailScanner based
email servers processing a total of 80-100k messages per day.  I was
recently asked to design and possibly build a spam/virus filtering solution
to easily support up to 2 million messages per day.

I remember seeing guidelines (from Julian himself I believe) on this list
and in the FAQ mentioning to design MailScanner running on decent hardware
for approximately 50,000 messages per day.  Now that I read the suggestions
and the FAQ again, I see that people are saying a well tuned solution
should be capable of 1 million...

Most of my email servers (2-3 year old P3 and P4's typically) have periods
of increased load even when processing a measley 20-30k messages per day, I
doubt that the effective throughput difference makes the system scale to a
million (thats why I am asking you folks).  I have seen less load with
recent versions of MS and SA but not to that degree.

For the first time ever I have a nearly unlimited design budget for this
project (but I might not get to build it for other reasons) and am
wondering a few things.  I was initially thinking of using a quad Opteron
system with 4 gigs of ram and 8 disks in raid 10 based on the benchmarks I
am seeing.  Since the solution has to be completely redundant I would need
at least 2 of these boxes...  I assume from the new comments that 2 of
these should have no problems handling more than 2 million messages per day.

Alternately I would use 4 or 6 smaller dual Xeon Nocona or 2xx series
Opteron servers with 2 GB ram and 4 disks in raid 10 each.  I assume this
would give greater CPU and I/O per email request at a lower cost.  Would 6
of these handle the expected peak loads?

Also, should I use the Linux High Availability project to direct SMTP
requests evenly across all or should I simply load balance using (even or
odd) weighted MX records in DNS?  I guess the LHA solution would require an
extra 2 small servers acting as external facing TCP port 25 directors and 2
high I/O systems acting as internal central mailbox repository servers
which drives up the cost/complexity.

The solution I have proposed is the standard Sendmail, Procmail,
MailScanner, Spamassassin, a list of RBLs, DCC, Vipuls Razor, Pyzor, ClamAV
with at least 2 other commercial virus scanners running on RHEL.

Thanks again for a fine product Julian...

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