IBP-MIME: Controlled Delivery of Large Mail Files

Wael R. Elwasif, Micah Beck and James S. Plank.

Technical Report UT-CS-99-421, University of Tennessee, April, 1999.

Available via anonymous ftp to cs.utk.edu in pub/plank/papers/CS-99-421.ps.Z.


The current model of mail delivery over the Internet guarantees that an email message, when delivered, will have all its parts present at the recipient's mail server. The message is typically spooled pending retrieval by the recipient at a later time. This model has serious efficiency problems when handling messages that contain large files. Such messages impose a heavy burden on storage resources at the mail server, where they can occupy space for an indefinite period of time pending retrieval. The situation is made worse when the message is directed to multiple users who share the same mail server. In this paper we present a new model for delivery of email messages containing large files. The proposed model separates the text part of the email message from the non-text part, and entrusts the latter to a set of network storage servers that keep it until prompted for delivery by the recipient. The proposed model makes use of new initiatives in distributed storage that are part of the Internet2 project. In addition, it allows for recipient initiated preprocessing of the sent file remotely, before actually receiving it. This option is becoming more feasible with the advent of computational servers such as NetSolve and can have wide implications in areas such as electronic commerce and security.

Postscript of the paper