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A municipal client needs to put in place a email delivery system which is capable of quickly alerting their users via email. We estimate about 10 alerts a day. Each alert will be sent to 1000 recipients.

The main issue is that the alerts need to be sent out in a timely and prompt manner. Any delay longer than two minutes will make moot the alert. To specify, the alerts would notify subscribers that their train will be arriving about 10 minutes late.

We've researched PowerMTA along with a few hosted services but the client prefers to use Exchange as their SMTP mailer.

Can Exchange and or IIS handle this? Is it true that Exchange uses the IIS SMTP service? If so, what's to be gained from using Exchange?

Many Thanks.

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Relying on email for urgent alerts is asking for trouble. By design, SMTP is not an "urgent" protocol. – EEAA Apr 26 '11 at 19:26
Hey Erik. Your very correct. I'm not sure what the alternative is though. SMS would be too expensive. Would appreciate your suggestions. – VikenY Apr 26 '11 at 19:29
For this type of urgency, usually automated phone calls are the way to go, but if SMS is going to be too expensive for you, then subscribing to a phone alert service will surely be too expensive as well. With your restrained budget, email may be the only viable option. Most of the messages should get through pretty quickly, but there is no way to guarantee immediate delivery. – EEAA Apr 26 '11 at 19:36
How viable would using multiple alerting systems be (twitter and email)? – USACASD Apr 26 '11 at 20:17
Twitter is definitely a good alternative but unfortunately it's not part of the project requirements. – VikenY Apr 26 '11 at 23:37

It's not an answer, just run short on the amount of characters per comment:

There are scripts on Microsoft website that will simulate extensive email flow through the Exchange server as well, using appropriate counters and TEST ENVIRONMENT you'll be able to determine the "throughput". However, and here come even bigger issue, some ISPs have configuration of their DNS servers that will LIMIT number of queries to the DNS servers from specific IPs. That's is done in order NOT to overhelm the DNS server. I have seen such configurations. So you'll be probably required to install your own caching DNS server. As previously suggested, you need a smarter system to control emails sent out. Such system will definitely include an option or will be able to configure sending SEVERAL messages to the same domain IN THE SAME connection and NOT opening a new one for every email.

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In my opinion, you need to find another way to alert your recipients. You are trying to use a system that simply is not meant to be used like instant messaging. And this is for any email delivery system. So, the answer is no.

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You stole my idea. ;) – EEAA Apr 26 '11 at 19:28
Thanks Dan. I updated the question with a bit more detail. The alert is to notify subscribers that their train will be 10 minutes late. Besides SMS, what is the alternative? – VikenY Apr 26 '11 at 19:33
SMS sounds good, if everyone has a phone, with an unlimited SMS plan, and doesn't have their phone on silent, and manages to see it before its too late. But email would be the same way, unless they are staring at their inbox, or have an audible alert. – DanBig Apr 26 '11 at 19:35

What you describe sounds like what Office Live Communication Server is meant for

Edit: To be more clear, here's a link to a blog post where they describe doing this exact kind of thing: - someone wrote a PowerShell cmdlet to do it.

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OCS is more analogous to instant messaging than email – Uninspired Apr 27 '11 at 1:40
@Uninspired - exactly, and so is his stated need. – Mark Allen Apr 29 '11 at 22:15

To you question -Exchange on a capable box can certainly handle 10k messages/day. We handle more spam than that in a given day.

share|improve this answer
It's not a 'per day' concern -- it's in spurts according to OP. The question is ultimately: 'can it handle sending 1000 messages within two minutes?' – Uninspired Apr 27 '11 at 1:41
@Uninspired - it definitely can, but all Exchange does is store the email in its database(s) and update those 1000 recipient's mailboxes (once per database, at any rate) with a link and counter showing that they have received that mail. It's then up to their email client to 'read' their mailbox often enough to notice the new mail. That's the part where this might fail, or at least might fail sometimes for some people. – Mark Allen Apr 29 '11 at 22:18

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