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Webmail Speed Enhancements, Round 1


We’ve been talking a lot about our goal of turning webmail into a really fast web-based email client. We have two projects underway right now, Harbinger and Mercury, both of which are aimed at tackling our speed challenges. With Harbinger we’re rewriting our webmail client using what most people refer to as Web 2.0 technologies, like Ajax. With Mercury, we’re rewriting a lot of our backend software infrastructure. Together, the front end and the back end will ultimately provide a ‘better than desktop’ experience—at least that is the goal.
Both projects are huge and will be ongoing for months and even years. But yesterday, we started releasing the first speed related improvements associated with Mercury.
Here are the details:
We’re replacing our current IMAP server with Dovecot, an open source based IMAP server. Dovecot is much faster at IMAP sort commands, which are used every time a folder is displayed. This will especially improve message listing speeds when viewing folders with many email messages. The improvement will be implemented server by server, with the first server change on April 19th (yesterday).
Implementing Dovecot is a major step in the right direction for us and if you’re a webmail user, you’ll see some pretty decent speed improvements over the next few weeks. This isn’t the release of Harbinger or Mercury though, just a step in the right direction.
Thanks to Bill and his team, especially Matt, for making this happen. And a special thanks to Timo Sirainen, the creator of Dovecot, who worked with us to make some improvements we needed in a timely fashion.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Pat Matthews.

Pat Matthews is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Rackspace. Prior to Rackspace, Pat founded, a business email hosting company that made Inc. magazine's list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. In 2007 Rackspace acquired and the two businesses joined forces. From 2007 to 2009, Pat led the Rackspace mail business and helped grow it to more than two million paid mailboxes worldwide.

In January 2010, Pat was promoted to Vice President and General Manager of all Rackspace cloud businesses. In this role he led Rackspace to become one of the most important companies in the cloud computing industry. He was promoted to Senior Vice President of Cloud at Rackspace in August of 2010.

Today, Pat oversees corporate development, which includes M&A, investment projects, new business initiatives and strategic partnerships.

Pat is a graduate of Virginia Tech. He is an angel investor and advisor in several startup companies. Pat and his family live in San Antonio, TX.

  • Derek Kalweit

    I have noticed speed problems in my IMAP clients in the past few days, and I’m wondering if it’s due to Dovecot… Thoughts?

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