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Email, one of the earliest Internet applications, has now become part of our daily lives for both professional and personal communications, with millions of messages flowing over the Internet every day. Hence, Mail servers have to cope with this increased load and provide the QoS required by the users who expect a fast, reliable and secure service.

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In this framework, the Performance Evaluation Group participated to a collaborative project with the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC), aimed at the definition of SPECmail2001, a standardized mail server benchmark designed to measure a system ability to act as a mail server servicing email requests, based on the Internet standard protocols SMTP and POP3.

We characterized the workload of mail servers with the aim to obtain a benchmark able to reproduce a realistic environment with its workload. Our studies focused on the analysis of measurements collected on various mail servers. The models of the workload were characterized in terms of the arrival rate of the requests to the mail server, the size of the messages being sent or received, and the number of their recipients.

Our current activities are focusing on the definition of a research prototype of a tool for benchmarking of mail servers that process SMTP, POP3 and IMAP4 requests. The tool allows the definition of workload that includes spam messages and messages that contain viruses. Moreover, the mail server under test can be configured to perform some simple security checks (e.g., SMTP flooding).