For those of you working with larger amounts of traffic, which solution is better; building an email platform from scratch, or using an email security and delivery platform (ESDP) service? In this blog post, we describe both solutions so you can determine which one suits your company best.
For many companies, an MTA is simply something required for handling your email processes. Some might look for the cheapest solution, others that seem to be the easiest to implement as soon as possible. Regardless of your needs, you want to look for a solution suitable for the volume of emails you handle, and the scalability you might experience. Here are some pros and cons of solutions suitable for larger amounts of traffic.
An on-premise MTA is a software that sends and receives emails, usually open-source software, running on the company’s servers. When running an on-premise MTA, a few or just one person is responsible for the platform and has all knowledge about the platform and all its functions.
The license cost, usually based on open source, is low.
You get the flexibility to customize the platform as you like.
You get full control over the software.
Running an on-premise MTA may lead to problems with scalability and performance.
There are comprehensive hardware requirements.
The costs for development, servers, and maintenance are high.
Time-consuming procedures like support are required.
Email security and delivery platform (ESPD)
An ESDP MTA is an email platform that functions as a smart combination of both worlds; it has the flexibility of building a platform yourself with open source software, and the advantages that a commercially supported product brings.
You get the flexibility to customize the platform to your needs and requirements.
Both server cost and time-to-market are reduced.
Less development and maintenance are required compared to other solutions, and updates are continuously enhancing your platform.
The ease to scale up as traffic increases.
This solution is not suitable for small amounts of traffic.
Thinking about implementing a new email platform, but keep postponing the process since it seems way too time-consuming? Here we describe the whole process to show you know how fast it can be done!
After you have decided that your company needs a new email platform, the routine usually looks the same. It goes from requirements to implementation and through testing, evaluation, and verification of the operational production system. Nevertheless, the duration of this process varies from weeks to months.
Email service providers have different needs, so obviously, one size does not fit all. Some want a service that filters their emails from spam and viruses. Other companies want to consolidate all their incoming and outgoing emails for their hosting environment (mailbox). Others, often internet service providers (ISPs), want it for their infrastructure. Let us go through the entire process.
The customer provides a requirement specification to the supplier, who goes through it thoroughly to make sure everything specified can be fulfilled and delivered. In general, everything can be done, but in some cases, to comply, additional 3rd party solutions might be needed.
This stage is usually pretty swift, but it depends on the customer (for instance, public procurement usually takes a bit longer). Difficulties that may arise during this part of the process could be answering the customer’s questions and meeting the new platform demands, as well as documenting the system to be replaced and its requirements.
During the implementation, product specialists work with installing and configuring the new email platform based on the agreed requirements, in close collaboration with the customer. Meetings are continuously held with the customer to make sure everything is working smoothly. Also, information from the old email platform is analyzed and secured to be used for integration during the implementation.
Also, during the implementation, the platform is adjusted to suit the customer’s requirements, and if problems occur, the supplier makes suitable improvements to solve the.
3 Testing, evaluating and verifying
After implementation, it is up to the customer to test, evaluate, and verify the new platform and its functions and asses to what level the agreed requirements are met. In this part of the process, minor adjustments of the configuration might be needed, and IP addresses may need to be warmed.
Also, live traffic then needs to be tested. It begins with the customer directing some of the traffic from the old platform to the new one (if possible). Should a problem occur, or changes are to be made during live operation, many choose to use blue-green deployment.
At Halon, our live staging function is an enhanced way of using blue-green deployment. With the regular procedure, you create two identical environments to test the traffic. With live staging, you can run two similar configurations in the same environment, and try only a small portion of the traffic using the new configuration, to make sure that the testing is safe. If everything is operating as it should, you can then gradually increase the amount of traffic, until all traffic has been moved to the new configuration.
4 Deploying the new platform
If everything goes according to plan, and the customer appreciates the new system, you celebrate and go-to-market!
If you’re operating an email delivery platform that’s growing in traffic but isn’t operating at its full potential, you might want to look for other options. There are of course challenges associated with switching platforms, but in the end, it can prove to be the best solution for your company.
The scripting on a platform created specifically for email enables you to create more with much less code. If you’re accustomed to a home-brew system based on open source components and decide to evaluate a comprehensive and scriptable email platform, you’re gonna find yourself spending less time on development and more time on value-adding strategies.
Deployment of changes or new features can be challenging, time-consuming and risky. Many service providers don’t have the infrastructure for production testing.
One great way of quickly and safely rolling out changes is blue-green deployment. Halon provides built-in, integrated traffic splitting that we call live staging. It’s a unique method that allows you to try out new code and configuration on a production host for only a selected part of your traffic, selected by random or IP address. This creates two virtual environments. The code editor and tooling makes it easy to test the working copy before you decide to deploy.
If you are using an on-prem, open source based solution for your MTA, you have the advantage of low initial investment costs with no license cost. But later on, your operating costs can start to become quite severe. Factors that can become quite expensive for an email service provider is server rents or costs for hardware, as well as various costs for updates, maintenance and development. Additional support costs can reside depending on the setup. You may also experience issues with complicated pathways, and various components may be coupled together in complex ways.
The Halon MTA is a flexible email operations and security platform.
It enables organisations that operate large-scale email services to offer competitive features by rapid implementation
and to lower maintenance costs through reliable deployment and reduced complexity.