1. Background

Once a unit of the university no longer exists, is re-branded, merged or split and wants to use a different email domain, the old email domain begins a process of being wound down and mail sent to it will eventually fail to be delivered.

1.1. Why old domains need to be removed

Some people have argued that the old addresses should be allowed to run indefinteley. Academic staff who have used the same address for many years, have it published in numerous publications and registered with world wide contacts, can feel particularly disadvantaged. However, there are several reasons why we should do this.

  • Reputation. It does not look go for the university, if someone is using an address e.g. @radiology.ox.ac.uk when the university no longer has a dept of Radiology. Others could question how good the university was at managing any of its other data.
  • There are overheads in maintaining a email domain. By 'law', each domain must have a working postmaster@domain email address - this needs to be checked periodically.
  • There can be confusion/complexity when people return to the dept after a gap and only have the new address.
  • The MX domain registration has to be maintained and periodically audited. ie adhoc requests from postmaster of the form Is this domain still used?

In the past, when a domain mail address change was an rare event, the addresses were wound down over 2 years. However, because of the ongoing administrative overhead of winding down domains, 12 months is the ideal upper limit. To put this into context, if an individual moves dept or changes their name, their old email address will work for only 2 months. There is lot to be said for make limiting the old address to 2 months once the new address has become the default, even for domain wind downs.

2. The steps in the wind down process

  1. Alternative is added - new addresses are added for each person belonging to the new unit, and for the unit generics, so they can start to be used immediately. No new people are assigned the old address (the unit is marked as univ opt 6 in the Registration Database- a unit in wind down - this value gets into ldap.oak). Users should notify their contacts of a change of address e.g. but putting it in a signature file.
  2. New address is made the default. The timing of making the new unit the default sending address on Nexus and being the address that get passed to other depts is done in consultation with the Department - usually the administrator and ITSS. The default sending address on IMAP email clients will be unaffected.
  3. Personal automated warning sent An automated warning message 3 months before email address expiry is sent to the people affected. People themselves should search for the occurrence of the old address in recent incoming messages in INBOX and contact the senders. (Postmaster may be able to provide ITSS with lists of people who are receiving mail or sending mail to/from the old address.)
  4. Email address fail All mail sent to that domain will fail to be delivered.
  5. Tailored failure message It is possible to set up a tailored failure message such that people sending to the domain can get e.g. "You emailed fred.blogggs@ouls.ox.ac.uk try fred.bloggs@bodleian.ox.ac.uk" This is not something that is configurable per person- it is for the whole mail domain and has to be requested by the department.
  6. The domain is de-registered by Postmaster. This can happen at any time. The tailored message has rapidly decreasing value over time and has the disadvantage of returning potentially good addresses to spammers. Suggest 6 months as the default, if a tailored message is set up - other wise as soon as possible after the addresses fail.

3. The current list of domains in wind down (June 2012)

Mail Domain IT Services unit codes involved Alternative added (Step 1) Alternative made the default (Step 2) Warning sent (Step 3) Personal email addresses fail (Step 4) Domain failure message set up? Domain de-registered (Step 5)
Oncology merger New code AN, address @oncology *****Check these changes
@clpharm clpharm code HD Mar 2011 Sep 2011 30-mar-2012 30-may-2012 Yes 1st Nov 2012
@medonc oncologyx code BP Mar 2011 Sep 2011 30-mar-2012 30-may-2012 Yes 1st Nov 2012
@rob rob code H3 Mar 2011 Sep 2011 30-mar-2012 30-may-2012 Not yet 1st Nov 2012
Clinical NeuroSciences semi merger New code HM, address @ndcn ****Check these changes
@nda (to keep) anaes code HA Aug 2011 not 3rd Jan 2012* rt 1st June 2012 1st Sep 2012 Not yet 1st Mar 2013
@clneuro (to go) clneuro no current code Aug 2011 3rd Jan 2012 1st June 2012 1st Sep 2012 Not yet 1st Mar 2013
@eye (keep) ophth keep HA Aug 2011 3rd Jan 2012 1st June 2012 1st Sep2012 Not yet 1st Mar 2013
@pru (to go) pru no current code Aug 2011 3rd Jan 2012 1st June 2012 1st Sep 2012 Not yet 1st Mar 2013
Other ordered by final deletion time
@socres appsoc Jan 2011 Jan 2011 ? 13th-Dec-2011 13th-Feb-2012 Yes 13th -Aug-2012
@dphpc pubhealth Mar 2011 Mar 2011 1st-Dec-2011 1-mar-2012 Special done by oxmails 1st-Sep-2012
@geratol geriat start wind down ok Not yet
@mrl (rapid) metres Nov 2011 Nov 2011 1st-Feb -2012 1st May 2012 Not needed 1st Oct 2012
@oxlip (rapid) sheikh Nov 2011 Nov 2011 1st Feb 2012 1st May 2012 Not not needed 1st Oct 2012
@21school jmar Apr 2011 Apr 2011? 01-Oct-2011 01-jan-2012 (hod only) Cant be done 1st- Jan -2013
@vet vet Nov 2011 to do 01-Sep-2012 1-Nov -2012 Not yet 1st-May-2013
@exams (keeping for 2 years becuase of printed material) exams Sep 2011 to do 1st-Dec-2011 1-mar-2012 Not yet 1st-Sep-2013
@oued survey Oct 2012 Oct 2012 Jan 2013 1-feb-2013 Not yet 1st-Sep-2013