The objective of Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is to transfer mail reliably and efficiently.
SMTP is independent of the particular transmission subsystem and requires only a reliable ordered data stream channel. Appendices A, B, C, and D describe the use of SMTP with various transport services. A Glossary provides the definitions of terms as used in this document.
An important feature of SMTP is its capability to relay mail across transport service environments. A transport service provides an interprocess communication environment (IPCE). An IPCE may cover one network, several networks, or a subset of a network. It is important to realize that transport systems (or IPCEs) are not one-to-one with networks. A process can communicate directly with another process through any mutually known IPCE. Mail is an application or use of interprocess communication. Mail can be communicated between processes in different IPCEs by relaying through a process connected to two (or more) IPCEs. More specifically, mail can be relayed between hosts on different transport systems by a host on both transport systems.