A distributed email server is an interesting topic
There are a number of different ways which might reasonably approach the problem. Take a look at the way UIDs are defined in IMAP . The strong uniqueness qualities may only be required within a mailbox, not universally. Though mailboxes can be shared, requirements for maintenance message sequence number limit how well concurrency access to a single mailbox will scale.
This suggests to me that the framers of the IMAP standard considered the possibility that distribution might happen between the protocol and mailbox tiers. In the scenario, the servers handling client connections and handling mailboxes would operate in separate processes, potentially separated by a network. Each mailbox could then be located close to dedicated storage.
I believe that a consequence of this engineering decision by the standards group may be that a fully distributed UID may be not really be necessary. I suspect that using HBase or Cassandra  to store UIVALIDITY+UID keyed by mailbox name (perhaps using Gora) would be good enough.
18.104.22.168. Unique Identifier (UID) Message Attribute
A 32-bit value assigned to each message, which when used with the
unique identifier validity value (see below) forms a 64-bit value
that MUST NOT refer to any other message in the mailbox or any
subsequent mailbox with the same name forever. Unique identifiers
are assigned in a strictly ascending fashion in the mailbox; as each
message is added to the mailbox it is assigned a higher UID than the
message(s) which were added previously. Unlike message sequence
numbers, unique identifiers are not necessarily contiguous.
The unique identifier of a message MUST NOT change during the
session, and SHOULD NOT change between sessions. Any change of
unique identifiers between sessions MUST be detectable using the
UIDVALIDITY mechanism discussed below. Persistent unique identifiers
are required for a client to resynchronize its state from a previous
session with the server (e.g., disconnected or offline access
clients); this is discussed further in [IMAP-DISC].
Associated with every mailbox are two values which aid in unique
identifier handling: the next unique identifier value and the unique
identifier validity value.
The next unique identifier value is the predicted value that will be
assigned to a new message in the mailbox. Unless the unique
identifier validity also changes (see below), the next unique
identifier value MUST have the following two characteristics. First,
the next unique identifier value MUST NOT change unless new messages
are added to the mailbox; and second, the next unique identifier
value MUST change whenever new messages are added to the mailbox,
even if those new messages are subsequently expunged.
Note: The next unique identifier value is intended to
provide a means for a client to determine whether any
messages have been delivered to the mailbox since the
previous time it checked this value. It is not intended to
provide any guarantee that any message will have this
unique identifier. A client can only assume, at the time
that it obtains the next unique identifier value, that
messages arriving after that time will have a UID greater
than or equal to that value.
The unique identifier validity value is sent in a UIDVALIDITY
response code in an OK untagged response at mailbox selection time.
If unique identifiers from an earlier session fail to persist in this
session, the unique identifier validity value MUST be greater than
the one used in the earlier session.
Note: Ideally, unique identifiers SHOULD persist at all
times. Although this specification recognizes that failure
to persist can be unavoidable in certain server
environments, it STRONGLY ENCOURAGES message store
implementation techniques that avoid this problem. For
1) Unique identifiers MUST be strictly ascending in the
mailbox at all times. If the physical message store is
re-ordered by a non-IMAP agent, this requires that the
unique identifiers in the mailbox be regenerated, since
the former unique identifiers are no longer strictly
ascending as a result of the re-ordering.
2) If the message store has no mechanism to store unique
identifiers, it must regenerate unique identifiers at
each session, and each session must have a unique
3) If the mailbox is deleted and a new mailbox with the
same name is created at a later date, the server must
either keep track of unique identifiers from the
previous instance of the mailbox, or it must assign a
new UIDVALIDITY value to the new instance of the
mailbox. A good UIDVALIDITY value to use in this case
is a 32-bit representation of the creation date/time of
the mailbox. It is alright to use a constant such as
1, but only if it guaranteed that unique identifiers
will never be reused, even in the case of a mailbox
being deleted (or renamed) and a new mailbox by the
same name created at some future time.
4) The combination of mailbox name, UIDVALIDITY, and UID
must refer to a single immutable message on that server
forever. In particular, the internal date, [RFC-2822]
size, envelope, body structure, and message texts
(RFC822, RFC822.HEADER, RFC822.TEXT, and all BODY[...]
fetch data items) must never change. This does not
include message numbers, nor does it include attributes
that can be set by a STORE command (e.g., FLAGS).
22.214.171.124. Message Sequence Number Message Attribute
A relative position from 1 to the number of messages in the mailbox.
This position MUST be ordered by ascending unique identifier. As
each new message is added, it is assigned a message sequence number
that is 1 higher than the number of messages in the mailbox before
that new message was added.
Message sequence numbers can be reassigned during the session. For
example, when a message is permanently removed (expunged) from the
mailbox, the message sequence number for all subsequent messages is
decremented. The number of messages in the mailbox is also
decremented. Similarly, a new message can be assigned a message
sequence number that was once held by some other message prior to an
In addition to accessing messages by relative position in the
mailbox, message sequence numbers can be used in mathematical
calculations. For example, if an untagged "11 EXISTS" is received,
and previously an untagged "8 EXISTS" was received, three new
messages have arrived with message sequence numbers of 9, 10, and 11.
Another example, if message 287 in a 523 message mailbox has UID
12345, there are exactly 286 messages which have lesser UIDs and 236
messages which have greater UIDs.