Amazon Simple Email Service – SMTP in the Cloud

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logo awsAs a user of Amazon Web Services, I occasionally get emails from them announcing new services or inviting me to take part in some beta or other.  Last week I received an email announcing Amazon Simple Email Service.  

Amazon SES is primarily a developers tool.  It is specifically for those who wish to create their own email delivery/marketing systems as opposed to using an Email Service Provider's (ESP) platform.  It is basically SMTP in the cloud.  Amazon is allowing developers to deliver both transactional and bulk (a.k.a marketing) email messages through their email servers, for a very small price.  This service promises to remove the burden of scalability, email server configuration, IP Address reputation management, ISP Feedback loop registration and other infrastructure issues related to deliverability and sending large amounts email.  All the developer needs to worry about is creating the email (html or plain text) and passing it to Amazon for delivery.

Many Email Service Providers (ESPs) offer Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that can be used in a similar fashion but with the virtually limitless scalability of Amazon Web Services and a pricing model that is, in most cases, significantly more cost effective it makes one wonder what impact this service will have on the Email Service Provider market. I'm also anxious to see the number of additional ESPs that will start up with Amazon SES as their foundation – that could spell some trouble for the highly profitable email service industry.

Do you think Amazon SES will have an impact ESP's?  What about those that work with large enterprises and are charging large fees just to access their API?


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    I was speaking to some folks in the industry who really believe this could be quite a blow to the large email service providers who do a ton of OEM work. You simply can’t get more cost effective than this service – even if you have to hire deliverability consultants on top of it!

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      The only hurdle to starting your own ESP with it is the volume and rate quota’s Amazon has put in place. Both the rate per second and total sends per day are limited until you demonstrate a history of that need. You can get to a point where you can send a million emails per day but it will take some time. A new ESP would probably be better off with a hybrid system of internal SMTP and Amazon’s service until they have a consistent volume of email flow. Otherwise they may have bursts above the allowed quota.

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