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University Information Services

A number of institutions within the University manage their own mail domains, or manage a domain for a group or project that spans institutions. The traditional way to do this is for the Computer Officer at a particular institution to set up a dedicated mail server which then has to be maintained indefinitely. This approach has a number of advantages, including:

  • Absolute control over the set of valid mail addresses and their behaviour.
  • Close integration with any existing institution LAN services.
  • Privacy of data.

On the other hand, managing a dedicated mail server involves a reasonable commitment in terms of time, energy and money on the part of an institution and its Computer Officer.

A Managed Mail Domain (MMD) provides a simple way for an institution to maintain a set of role aliases and 'friendly' email names for its permanent staff without the overhead of running its own mail server. MMDs make use of the central mail switch system (ppsw). They are usually controlled by a menu interface on Hermes but may be managed by having the alias file fetched from a web server, using https.

The system is not designed for domains that require very frequent alterations. Updates made to a domain take up to an hour to propagate from Hermes to the mail switch. The positive side of this arrangement is that the mail switch consists of several entirely independent systems. If one of these systems fails for any reason, the managed mail domains continue to function.

The University Information Services (UIS) mail domain is managed by this system and provides some 330 alternate names for various @cam and @lists addresses. Examples from this domain are used in the section on managing a domain using the Hermes menu systems.


Managed mail domains are available to institutions within the university. They are also available to sub-institutions, established research groups, and groups and projects that span institutions. They are not available to private individuals or societies. Most MMDs are domains under but they can also be used for other domains, (e.g. research projects that span institutions).

Before applying for a MMD institutions will need to have their own DNS name. Other groups will need to negotiate a name before applying for a MMD. If you are thinking of a domain with a non address you may wish to consider using the Managed Zone Service to provide name services.

Alternative forms of domains

The name of a mail domain in, whether administered on a local server or by the mechanism described here, will normally correspond to the domain name of the institution in the IP Registration database. Mailing lists will normally incorporate this name but not always.

The Information Strategy and Services Syndicate will, under some circumstances, allow an institution which has been allocated a heavily abbreviated subdomain to use a longer, 'more descriptive' sub-domain alias in email addresses (and World Wide Web URLs) while maintaining the existing short name for day-to-day use. For example, has the alternate long form

The UIS has a facility for domain-wide email address aliases, such that email to a user is redirected to the same user The two domains support the same set of local parts, but the domains' managers do not have to keep them manually synchronised. Once the redirection is set up no further administration is required.

For more information about this facility, please email .


The mail domains managed using this system are subject to the same restrictions as any other mail domain as described in Rules for administering a mail domain.

The important points to note are:

  • A reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that all those users that come under the administration which the name represents are registered in the domain's mail system. If the domain concerned is a college, then a reasonable attempt is interpreted as follows: all permanent staff of the college should be able to have mail addressed to them at the college, but it is not necessary to register any students.
  • In the event of a problem with incoming or outgoing mail from a mail domain, those who try to resolve such problems (which may be the user, or someone responsible for other mail domains) will expect to be able to communicate with a special mail id, postmaster. It is a requirement that there shall be a postmaster mailbox in each domain, and that suitable arrangements must be made for this mailbox to be regularly and frequently serviced, and responded to with a reasonable turnaround.

    You can define postmaster as an alias in your domain. If you do not, mail sent to postmaster will be sent to all the registered managers for the domain. Other aliases that are defaulted in the same way if not explicitly defined are webmaster and abuse.

Applying for a managed mail domain

To apply for a managed mail domain, complete the web application form.

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