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Email service providers

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  • Port Able
    I am currently consulting for a small retailer. They have been using an online email service provider for the past few years to blast personalized emails to
    Message 1 of 16 , Dec 30, 2009
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      I am currently consulting for a small retailer.  They have been using an online email service provider for the past few years to blast personalized emails to their customers (opt-in, and 100-200 thousand emails at a time).  They have asked me to see if we can install an email server in house to accomplish the same thing and eliminate the monthly costs.  I am fairly familiar with Linux/Unix and with databases (mysql and postgresql).  I have not done anything with Sendmail or Postfix but feel comfortable following the documentation.  I have also ordered the two books that I could find on Postfix.

      My questions are: has anyone used Postfix for this purpose?  Do the online ESP's develop their own email servers?  Do any of them use Sendmail, Postfix or qmail?


      Thanks in advance for any information or links.

    • Matt Hayes
      ... Port, I would suggest checking into MailMan or other mail list software. -Matt
      Message 2 of 16 , Dec 30, 2009
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        On 12/30/2009 1:43 PM, Port Able wrote:
        > I am currently consulting for a small retailer. They have been using an
        > online email service provider for the past few years to blast
        > personalized emails to their customers (opt-in, and 100-200 thousand
        > emails at a time). They have asked me to see if we can install an email
        > server in house to accomplish the same thing and eliminate the monthly
        > costs. I am fairly familiar with Linux/Unix and with databases (mysql
        > and postgresql). I have not done anything with Sendmail or Postfix but
        > feel comfortable following the documentation. I have also ordered the
        > two books that I could find on Postfix.
        >
        > My questions are: has anyone used Postfix for this purpose? Do the
        > online ESP's develop their own email servers? Do any of them use
        > Sendmail, Postfix or qmail?
        >
        >
        > Thanks in advance for any information or links.
        >


        Port,

        I would suggest checking into MailMan or other mail 'list' software.

        -Matt
      • Brian Evans - Postfix List
        ... Postfix does not create any messages (minus administrative notices). It is simply the delivery vehicle. Software such as mailman or ezmlm is more suited
        Message 3 of 16 , Dec 30, 2009
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          On 12/30/2009 1:43 PM, Port Able wrote:
          > I am currently consulting for a small retailer. They have been using
          > an online email service provider for the past few years to blast
          > personalized emails to their customers (opt-in, and 100-200 thousand
          > emails at a time). They have asked me to see if we can install an
          > email server in house to accomplish the same thing and eliminate the
          > monthly costs. I am fairly familiar with Linux/Unix and with
          > databases (mysql and postgresql). I have not done anything with
          > Sendmail or Postfix but feel comfortable following the documentation.
          > I have also ordered the two books that I could find on Postfix.
          >
          > My questions are: has anyone used Postfix for this purpose? Do the
          > online ESP's develop their own email servers? Do any of them use
          > Sendmail, Postfix or qmail?

          Postfix does not create any messages (minus administrative notices). It
          is simply the delivery vehicle.

          Software such as mailman or ezmlm is more suited to mailing lists.
          All such software can use Postfix to do the delivery.
        • Brian Mathis
          ... I ve not used mailmain or ezmlm for this purpose, but so called mailing list software that s available as open source is often meant to be used for
          Message 4 of 16 , Dec 30, 2009
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            On Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 1:43 PM, Port Able <ableport@...> wrote:
            > I am currently consulting for a small retailer.  They have been using an
            > online email service provider for the past few years to blast personalized
            > emails to their customers (opt-in, and 100-200 thousand emails at a time).
            > They have asked me to see if we can install an email server in house to
            > accomplish the same thing and eliminate the monthly costs.  I am fairly
            > familiar with Linux/Unix and with databases (mysql and postgresql).  I have
            > not done anything with Sendmail or Postfix but feel comfortable following
            > the documentation.  I have also ordered the two books that I could find on
            > Postfix.
            >
            > My questions are: has anyone used Postfix for this purpose?  Do the online
            > ESP's develop their own email servers?  Do any of them use Sendmail, Postfix
            > or qmail?
            >
            > Thanks in advance for any information or links.


            I've not used mailmain or ezmlm for this purpose, but so called
            "mailing list software" that's available as open source is often meant
            to be used for having discussions with numerous people through email.
            Using systems like that as a bulk mailer is generally a really bad
            idea and requires a lot of intricate configuration to ensure no one
            can reply to the whole list, etc...

            To accomplish this in my company, I setup postfix as the mail relay
            server, and use GroupMail 5
            (http://www.group-mail.com/asp/common/default.asp) [1] as the sending
            client. Groupmail manages the lists and provides a nice "Windows"
            front-end for whoever is doing the sending. GroupMail isn't free, but
            we've been using the Personal Edition and it has enough features to
            meet our needs.

            One of the biggest issues you're going to run into is that your IPs
            might get labeled as a spammer, even though this is opt-in. Dealing
            with that can be a big headache and is generally what you pay the
            monthly fee for. Sending legitimate bulk email is not a simple matter
            of hitting "Send" -- you also need to deal with the multiple issues
            that come up when doing it. This is the value that the other company
            brings to the table.


            [1] I have no affiliation with GroupMail 5.
          • Stan Hoeppner
            ... You really should ask this question on spam-l. There is an ESP discussion currently taking place. Would be perfect timing. Far more important that the
            Message 5 of 16 , Dec 30, 2009
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              Port Able put forth on 12/30/2009 12:43 PM:
              > I am currently consulting for a small retailer. They have been using an
              > online email service provider for the past few years to blast
              > personalized emails to their customers (opt-in, and 100-200 thousand
              > emails at a time). They have asked me to see if we can install an email
              > server in house to accomplish the same thing and eliminate the monthly
              > costs. I am fairly familiar with Linux/Unix and with databases (mysql
              > and postgresql). I have not done anything with Sendmail or Postfix but
              > feel comfortable following the documentation. I have also ordered the
              > two books that I could find on Postfix.
              >
              > My questions are: has anyone used Postfix for this purpose? Do the
              > online ESP's develop their own email servers? Do any of them use
              > Sendmail, Postfix or qmail?

              You really should ask this question on spam-l. There is an ESP discussion
              currently taking place. Would be perfect timing.

              Far more important that the software platform you choose to do this is your
              deliverability. Good ESPs know how to keep their customers mailings from
              hitting DNSBLs and other black lists. The last thing you want to do is set this
              thing up, and on the first run get your IP address blacklisted by Spamhaus.

              http://spam-l.com/mailman/listinfo/spam-l

              100K to 200K bulk mailings are not for amateurs.

              One question: are they not happy with the level of service their current ESP is
              providing, or are they merely trying to cut costs?

              --
              Stan
            • Bryan Allen
              +------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ... I work for an ESP who provides email forwarding, storage, and as a seperate
              Message 6 of 16 , Dec 30, 2009
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                +------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                | On 2009-12-30 10:43:48, Port Able wrote:
                |
                | I am currently consulting for a small retailer. They have been using
                | an online email service provider for the past few years to blast
                | personalized emails to their customers (opt-in, and 100-200 thousand
                | emails at a time). They have asked me to see if we can install an
                | email server in house to accomplish the same thing and eliminate the
                | monthly costs. I am fairly familiar with Linux/Unix and with databases
                | (mysql and postgresql). I have not done anything with Sendmail or
                | Postfix but feel comfortable following the documentation. I have also
                | ordered the two books that I could find on Postfix.
                |
                | My questions
                | are: has anyone used Postfix for this purpose? Do the online ESP's
                | develop their own email servers? Do any of them use Sendmail,
                | Postfix or qmail?

                I work for an ESP who provides email forwarding, storage, and as a seperate
                service, email marketing and mailing lists.

                We use Postfix; as other commenters have said, it's a (very good) delivery
                mechanism. But: It doesn't generate messages, just ensures they get where
                they're going.

                Working with Postfix as a delivery platform is very pleasant. It's easy to
                configure, extremely stable, well-documented, the code is super clean, and
                wrapping your application around it is quite easy.

                Our mailing list software is developed in-house. We used to use mailman (almost
                a decade ago?), but it's very limited for email marketing purposes.

                Some general suggestions:

                Keep your streams clear: Never mix IPs sending misc non-bulk mail with IPs
                sending bulk mail. This does not mean snowshoe, but you don't want your CEO's
                mail getting bounced to his best buddy at gmail because gmail now hates your
                marketing dept.

                PTRs are important.

                Sign up for every FBL you can. Track bounces. Never resub someone who has
                unsubscribed from your lists.

                SPF and DKIM matter to varying degrees.

                Some MXes you deliver to will want to be coddled (specific delivery settings).

                IP reputation is key. You have to grow it. Blasting Yahoo with 200k messages in
                5 minutes is going to cause headaches for everyone involved.

                If you end up on a blacklist, treat the operators with respect. Giving them
                crap is not going to help anyone.

                Engaging in scummy behavior for a short-term win is going to screw you
                long-term. Your marketing dept may not understand that; you'll have to stand
                firm with them. Do no let them buy email address lists.

                Delivering email, especially for marketing purposes, is very complex. If it
                isn't your core competency I would suggest outsourcing it to a dedicated ESP.
                --
                bda
                cyberpunk is dead. long live cyberpunk.
              • Eero Volotinen
                ... Well. usually people use sql+php style software for generating this kind of spam messages ;) -- Eero
                Message 7 of 16 , Dec 30, 2009
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                  On 12/30/09 8:49 PM, Brian Evans - Postfix List wrote:
                  > On 12/30/2009 1:43 PM, Port Able wrote:
                  >> I am currently consulting for a small retailer. They have been using
                  >> an online email service provider for the past few years to blast
                  >> personalized emails to their customers (opt-in, and 100-200 thousand
                  >> emails at a time). They have asked me to see if we can install an
                  >> email server in house to accomplish the same thing and eliminate the
                  >> monthly costs. I am fairly familiar with Linux/Unix and with
                  >> databases (mysql and postgresql). I have not done anything with
                  >> Sendmail or Postfix but feel comfortable following the documentation.
                  >> I have also ordered the two books that I could find on Postfix.
                  >>
                  >> My questions are: has anyone used Postfix for this purpose? Do the
                  >> online ESP's develop their own email servers? Do any of them use
                  >> Sendmail, Postfix or qmail?
                  >
                  > Postfix does not create any messages (minus administrative notices). It
                  > is simply the delivery vehicle.
                  >
                  > Software such as mailman or ezmlm is more suited to mailing lists.
                  > All such software can use Postfix to do the delivery.

                  Well. usually people use sql+php style software for generating this kind
                  of spam messages ;)

                  --
                  Eero
                • Port Able
                  ... Well. usually people use sql+php style software for generating this kind of spam messages ;) -- Eero That is a good point.  Mailman and ezmlm are not
                  Message 8 of 16 , Dec 30, 2009
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                    --- On Wed, 12/30/09, Eero Volotinen <eero.volotinen@...> wrote:

                    > Software such as mailman or ezmlm is more suited to mailing lists.
                    > All such software can use Postfix to do the delivery.

                    Well. usually people use sql+php style software for generating this kind
                    of spam messages ;)

                    --
                    Eero

                    That is a good point.  Mailman and ezmlm are not suitable for the scenario we imagine.  The primary reason for us is that, membership is not going to be fixed but dynamic, i.e., not everyone will receive an email each time.




                  • Port Able
                    ... You really should ask this question on spam-l.  There is an ESP discussion currently taking place.  Would be perfect timing. Far more important that the
                    Message 9 of 16 , Dec 30, 2009
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                      --- On Wed, 12/30/09, Stan Hoeppner <stan@...> wrote:

                      You really should ask this question on spam-l.  There is an ESP discussion
                      currently taking place.  Would be perfect timing.

                      Far more important that the software platform you choose to do this is your
                      deliverability.  Good ESPs know how to keep their customers mailings from
                      hitting DNSBLs and other black lists.  The last thing you want to do is set this
                      thing up, and on the first run get your IP address blacklisted by Spamhaus.

                      http://spam-l.com/mailman/listinfo/spam-l

                      100K to 200K bulk mailings are not for amateurs.

                      One question:  are they not happy with the level of service their current ESP is
                      providing, or are they merely trying to cut costs?

                      --
                      Stan


                      Thanks for the link!  I will check it out. 

                      To answer your question: it is a combination of both: they would like better integration with their CRM system, and the cost is really a reflection of the poor quality of service they are receiving.





                    • Port Able
                      ... .... [a lot of useful points] .... -- bda cyberpunk is dead. long live cyberpunk. This is very helpful information - thanks a bunch!  This gives me the
                      Message 10 of 16 , Dec 30, 2009
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                        --- On Wed, 12/30/09, Bryan Allen <bda@...> wrote:
                        ...
                        [a lot of useful points]
                        ...


                        --
                        bda
                        cyberpunk is dead. long live cyberpunk.


                        This is very helpful information - thanks a bunch!  This gives me the confidence to go ahead to build a test environment based on Postfix. 





                      • Jorge Armando Medina
                        ... You can try PHPLIST a newsletter manager: http://www.phplist.com/ ... -- Jorge Armando Medina Computación Gráfica de México Web:
                        Message 11 of 16 , Dec 30, 2009
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                          Bryan Allen wrote:
                          > +------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          > | On 2009-12-30 10:43:48, Port Able wrote:
                          > |
                          > | I am currently consulting for a small retailer. They have been using
                          > | an online email service provider for the past few years to blast
                          > | personalized emails to their customers (opt-in, and 100-200 thousand
                          > | emails at a time). They have asked me to see if we can install an
                          > | email server in house to accomplish the same thing and eliminate the
                          > | monthly costs. I am fairly familiar with Linux/Unix and with databases
                          > | (mysql and postgresql). I have not done anything with Sendmail or
                          > | Postfix but feel comfortable following the documentation. I have also
                          > | ordered the two books that I could find on Postfix.
                          > |
                          > | My questions
                          > | are: has anyone used Postfix for this purpose? Do the online ESP's
                          > | develop their own email servers? Do any of them use Sendmail,
                          > | Postfix or qmail?
                          >

                          You can try PHPLIST a newsletter manager: http://www.phplist.com/

                          > I work for an ESP who provides email forwarding, storage, and as a seperate
                          > service, email marketing and mailing lists.
                          >
                          > We use Postfix; as other commenters have said, it's a (very good) delivery
                          > mechanism. But: It doesn't generate messages, just ensures they get where
                          > they're going.
                          >
                          > Working with Postfix as a delivery platform is very pleasant. It's easy to
                          > configure, extremely stable, well-documented, the code is super clean, and
                          > wrapping your application around it is quite easy.
                          >
                          > Our mailing list software is developed in-house. We used to use mailman (almost
                          > a decade ago?), but it's very limited for email marketing purposes.
                          >
                          > Some general suggestions:
                          >
                          > Keep your streams clear: Never mix IPs sending misc non-bulk mail with IPs
                          > sending bulk mail. This does not mean snowshoe, but you don't want your CEO's
                          > mail getting bounced to his best buddy at gmail because gmail now hates your
                          > marketing dept.
                          >
                          > PTRs are important.
                          >
                          > Sign up for every FBL you can. Track bounces. Never resub someone who has
                          > unsubscribed from your lists.
                          >
                          > SPF and DKIM matter to varying degrees.
                          >
                          > Some MXes you deliver to will want to be coddled (specific delivery settings).
                          >
                          > IP reputation is key. You have to grow it. Blasting Yahoo with 200k messages in
                          > 5 minutes is going to cause headaches for everyone involved.
                          >
                          > If you end up on a blacklist, treat the operators with respect. Giving them
                          > crap is not going to help anyone.
                          >
                          > Engaging in scummy behavior for a short-term win is going to screw you
                          > long-term. Your marketing dept may not understand that; you'll have to stand
                          > firm with them. Do no let them buy email address lists.
                          >
                          > Delivering email, especially for marketing purposes, is very complex. If it
                          > isn't your core competency I would suggest outsourcing it to a dedicated ESP.
                          >


                          --
                          Jorge Armando Medina
                          Computación Gráfica de México
                          Web: http://www.e-compugraf.com
                          Tel: 55 51 40 72, Ext: 124
                          Email: jmedina@...
                          GPG Key: 1024D/28E40632 2007-07-26
                          GPG Fingerprint: 59E2 0C7C F128 B550 B3A6 D3AF C574 8422 28E4 0632
                        • LuKreme
                          ... Sure, lots of people. ... Bwahahahahah! Um. No. ... Almost certainly almost all of them use one of those. ... --
                          Message 12 of 16 , Dec 31, 2009
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                            On 30-Dec-2009, at 11:43, Port Able wrote:
                            > are: has anyone used Postfix for this purpose?

                            Sure, lots of people.

                            > Do the online ESP's develop their own email servers?

                            Bwahahahahah! Um. No.

                            > Do any of them use Sendmail, Postfix or quail?

                            Almost certainly almost all of them use one of those.

                            > Thanks in advance for any information or links.

                            <www.gnu.org/software/mailman/index.html>



                            --
                            I WILL NOT HANG DONUTS ON MY PERSON
                            Bart chalkboard Ep. 2F13
                          • LuKreme
                            ... No, that s simply not true. Mailman works perfectly well for sending announcement only mailings, and it is trivial to setup a list so that subscribers
                            Message 13 of 16 , Dec 31, 2009
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                              On 30-Dec-2009, at 12:20, Brian Mathis wrote:
                              > I've not used mailmain or ezmlm for this purpose, but so called
                              > "mailing list software" that's available as open source is often meant
                              > to be used for having discussions with numerous people through email.
                              > Using systems like that as a bulk mailer is generally a really bad
                              > idea and requires a lot of intricate configuration to ensure no one
                              > can reply to the whole list, etc…

                              No, that's simply not true. Mailman works perfectly well for sending announcement only mailings, and it is trivial to setup a list so that subscribers cannot post.

                              Nothing tricksy or intricate about it.


                              --
                              The person on the other side was a young woman. Very obviously a
                              young woman. There was no possible way that she could have been
                              mistaken for a young man in any language, especially Braille.
                            • Jacqui Caren-home
                              ... Excuse me! A year or so ago we worked on a postfix mod to enable delivery rate limiting and active MSP profile management. It did not work as well as we
                              Message 14 of 16 , Dec 31, 2009
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                                LuKreme wrote:
                                > On 30-Dec-2009, at 11:43, Port Able wrote:
                                >> Do the online ESP's develop their own email servers?
                                > Bwahahahahah! Um. No.

                                Excuse me!

                                A year or so ago we worked on a postfix mod to enable delivery rate
                                limiting and active MSP profile management. It did not work as well
                                as we hoped and we have since developed our own delivery systems.
                                Postfix is a great (probably the best IMHO) general purpose MTA but
                                for a highly specific (distributed) low overhead delivery system
                                designed to work within the (constantly changing) limitations specified
                                by MSPs the changes postfix required would have ended up as a re-write
                                to work with any decent performance.

                                I *know* other commercial MSP's (our competitors) also use custom
                                delivery subsystems although I think we are currently the only ones with
                                a distributed delivery system that uses active MSP delivery profiles
                                and MSP "delivery load balance" :-)

                                Jacqui
                              • Stan Hoeppner
                                ... So you wrote your own custom MTA and sending cluster load balancing daemon from scratch? Did you write them in C or Perl? How many hosts in this load
                                Message 15 of 16 , Dec 31, 2009
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                                  Jacqui Caren-home put forth on 12/31/2009 5:28 PM:

                                  > I *know* other commercial MSP's (our competitors) also use custom
                                  > delivery subsystems although I think we are currently the only ones with
                                  > a distributed delivery system that uses active MSP delivery profiles
                                  > and MSP "delivery load balance" :-)

                                  So you wrote your own custom MTA and sending cluster load balancing daemon from
                                  scratch? Did you write them in C or Perl? How many hosts in this load balanced
                                  sending cluster?

                                  --
                                  Stan
                                • Port Able
                                  ... for a highly specific (distributed) low overhead delivery system designed to work within the (constantly changing) limitations specified by MSPs the
                                  Message 16 of 16 , Jan 1, 2010
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                                    --- On Thu, 12/31/09, Jacqui Caren-home <jacqui.caren@...> wrote:
                                    for a highly specific (distributed) low overhead delivery system
                                    designed to work within the (constantly changing) limitations specified
                                    by MSPs the changes postfix required would have ended up as a re-write
                                    to work with any decent performance.


                                    If MSP's force you to throttle your delivery speed, how does a distributed delivery system help?  Since it is presumably intended to increase throughput/speed, it seems counter-intuitive as you will reach their limits faster.


                                    I *know* other commercial MSP's (our competitors) also use custom
                                    delivery subsystems although I think we are currently the only ones with
                                    a distributed delivery system that uses active MSP delivery profiles
                                    and MSP "delivery load balance" :-)



                                    This is very interesting.  Can you share any info or background on MSP profiles and their load balancing requirements? 



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