Modern Email Technology

EMail – Choosing your own Mail Service

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One way or another you need to make a choice about your email system. Will you deal with it in-house? Or will you outsource it?

Many business decide to use one of the many email hosting providers. The space has strong competitors in it, and you can get a good deal. Some, like Microsoft and Google, offer an easy process for getting started. (See, for example, How to Set Up & Use Gmail for Business in 5 Easy Steps.) The big players also offer suites of integrated tools. Indeed, if you are already using Outlook for your email client, Office 365 offers a compelling choice.

But there are reasons why you might want to handle email in-house. You may want to retain control over your own data, rather than rely upon the terms offered by a cloud provider. Indeed, you might be required to host things within your country. Or you might want to do some non-standard processing of your emails. So you may find yourself wanting to provision your own mail server.

Now, setting up a mail server can be fairly straightforward. And if you use Open Source tools, you can avoid paying licensing costs. There are, however, a number of things that you need to get right to ensure that your messages get through. Many of the major email providers will treat your email as spam, unless you setup anti-spam measures correctly. These measures include:

  • SPF – Sender Policy Framework
  • DKIM –  Domain Keys Identified Mail
  • DMARC – Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance

And, of course, you are going to have to deal with the spam among email that you receive. Perhaps the best tool for this is SpamAssassin. It can be integrated into your mail server and taught to distinguish between real mail and spam. Then there are the obligations which come with hosting your own email: backups and retention policies; sharing and availability; even indexing should you end up with large amounts of archived mail. However, there are solutions to all of these. And many are Open Source.

The complexity of setting email system nowadays seems to make relying upon a cloud provider the only choice. And doing it yourself can require expert skills. However, you can have your own expert. I can setup a new mail system for you or maintain and extend an existing one.

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