Re: Mail to

Adam Dillaplain ( )
Wed, 18 Jun 1997 11:09:58 -0500

hmmmm, lets look at AOL's letter

>This is not a DNS problem. It is related to the volume of mail that we
>receive. So much mail comes in that the inbound gateways are having
>trouble keeping up at some points. We are putting more gateways in place
>to keep up with the volume of mail that we receive.

Yeah, I'll use this next time someone bitches about a busy (not much
anymore). I'll say, "well due to the number of subscribers to we have, we
just can't get enough modems let enough people on. Sorry, working on it."
If you have 1000 subscribers and are using a 724K T1 as access, and
surviving, then you have no excuse to not expand that model when you have 8

>I, too, would not compare us with an ISP. Our connectivity is much better
>than any ISP that I know of. Roughly one of five Internet users access
>the net through us, according to some numbers I saw a while ago. We do
>more volume in email than anyone else in the world. With regard to our mail
>gateways backing up, we're just seeing the growing pains much sooner than
>anyone else because of the numbers we do.

Ok, one in five. Well, there's over 65million internet subscribers
worldwide. AOL has 8mil in North America and 750,000 elsewhere. That's
less than 9 million. 65/9 is about 7.3:1. Not quite 5:1. Also, when you
count actual hits, AOL is even less. Our webserver, which gets about 2.5
million hits a month only gets accessed by AOL about 8% of the time, a
striking 12.5:1 ratio.
>If one defines an ISP as an access provider that gives you the ability to
>run TCP/IP based clients over a TCP connection, then we indeed qualify. As
>a matter of fact, every user that logs in is assigned a dynamic IP address
>and can run any TCP compliant client over the AOL connection. If you have
>AOL 3.0 installed, dial in, shell out, and change directory to where aol
>is installed and then cd to net\osr1. In there you will find netstat and
>can run it to see your IP address.

Wow, that so exciting I think I wet myself. You mean you actually GIVE
everyone a TCP/IP address. That really makes up for poor service.

>With regard to the MXes pointing to CNAMEs... this is not an error, it is
>by design. As you know, DNS uses UDP for transport and the UDP packet is
>limited in size. Since we have so many gateways to advertise (to keep
>folks from getting refused connections) we can't fit all of our gateways
>into the packet. The data gets truncated as a result. This is not a problem
>for some people, but there are many non RFC compliant MTA implementatations
>(imagine that) and when they do an MX query on our truncated data -- instead
>of just using what they got, they throw away all of the data. Many SMTP MTAs
>not properly understanding how to deal with truncation (misreading RFC 1123),
>interpret any kind of truncation as meaning that all the data has to be
>away, when in fact you only throw it away if the truncation occurred in the
>Authority section. So by having the MX point to a CNAME, the gateways are
>broken down into more manageable chunks and aren't all advertised in one go,
>which is great for everyone out there with the broken MTAs. After
>with Paul Vixie and other DNS gurus, it is our understanding that this is
>not the
>greatest solution -- it is the only solution presently -- but is not
>illegal, and does help us solve the much more severe problem of DNS
>If you are running bind 4.9.5, you can configure it so that it doesn't log
>the annoying "MX points to a CNAME" messages :)

Gee, thanks for the technical explanation of DNS. I didn't know the entire
AOL staff had that much knowledge put together. I'll really take the
config pointer into consideration. If there is another provider I want to
emulate, its AOL

>We're aware of the problem, and are working on a better solution
>for it. However, in the meanwhile, people who do query logging will
>run into these error messages, even though they're not technically
>problematic. As for the problems reaching our mail gateways... I anticipate
>that it will not be a problem in the very near future.

So do I read this as "We are actually trying to but the amount of bandwidth
we need" What a concept! Us independant ISPs think completely
differently. For example, we have a burstable DS3, we don't need it, we
could use 4 T1's, but we went with the better technology to serve our

Don't you love AOL?


>-Mike Runge
> AOL Network Operations
>-------------------End Of Message---------------------
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