Monday, 08 September 2014 10:31

Dovecot in for the long haul

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The Dovecot open source IMAP server has been in development for 13 years "and we're just getting started," according to one of the founders of Dovecot OY.

Dovecot is used to handle email for two billion people around the world, Dovecot OY co-founder Mikko Linnamaki (pictured above, right) told the World Hosting Days Asia conference.

Dovecot OY (the company) was formed around ten years after the development of Dovecot (the software) began, he explained, and exists to provide support and consulting services plus proprietary add-ons.

"Email is in a pretty interesting state right now," Mr Linnamaki observed, as the previous generation of largely proprietary systems are reaching the end of their lives, and open source offerings are now the sweet spot.

Part of this is that ISPs and telcos require a level of control over email servers that they do not get from proprietary systems, he said.

For example, Dovecot is able to use object storage such as that offered by Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, and "the price of cloud storage is settling towards zero."

80% of European Dovecot deployments are based on object storage in either public or private clouds, because it is becoming too expensive for providers to host lots of data in their own data centres.

It's not profitable to use NetApp-style appliances, Mr Linnamaki said, observing that one Dovecot user found that the money saved by not having to pay for the maintenance of storage hardware was enough to cover the cost of using cloud storage instead.

Asked whether social media is killing email, he replied "This is not so much... The email address is your identity" for social media services.

Furthermore, the first thing 65% of Americans do in the morning is check their email, compared with 17% who check social media, he said. "[Email] is still there, and it's growing."

But what email does need is more intelligence, Mr Linnamaki suggested, for example to allow it to remind you about the airline ticket you received.

He noted that the Dovecot project is implementing the same API that Google is using to provide third-party developers with access to Gmail without using IMAP. "We will be supporting this revolution," he said.

Disclosure: The writer travelled to World Hosting Day in Singapore as the guest of Parallels.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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