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I work for a small ISP.

We currently outsource our customer email management and hosting.

Because of customer service issues and management requests, we are looking at ideas of bringing email hosting, and all the troubles that go with it, in house.

Currently we provide services for about 50 different domain customers and 30+K email customers for the ISP.

Does anyone have any experience in going through this process with some "lessons learned" or "questions you wished you would have asked in the beginning"?

Also any recommendations on providers or integrators would be helpful as well, the only one we seem to like so far is Zimbra(Vmware).

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I'm curious; is google apps a viable option? I only ask because hosting a resilient, reliable, available, functional email server with the proper backups and such is VERY challenging. –  Publiccert Feb 27 '12 at 14:19
    
No, it still falls under the outsourced category, unless I am missing something, which goes against managements requirements. –  notmyname Feb 27 '12 at 14:43
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Gotcha. I can't say I've used Zimbra but I've heard some ok things about it. At the scale you're talking, you may want to look into maybe hiring a consultant. Being a system admin doesn't mean managing a set of mail servers is easy. Frankly, it's one of the scarier things. I'd recommend getting an expert in to walk you through the process. Just a thought though. –  Publiccert Feb 27 '12 at 14:50
    
Thank you, that is a good point. If you (or anyone) have/has a particular company they recommend for the consulting, I am interested. –  notmyname Feb 27 '12 at 15:10
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Really, exchange for 30,000+ Customers? I didn't think they had competitive price points. Also to consider we are currently paying $.75/customer/month for email. I don't see how an exchange solution (hardware, software, licenses) can be a good competition. If someone knows different I would like to hear. thanks, –  notmyname Feb 27 '12 at 19:22

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It's very well possible to build a stable high traffic and an highly available email system using the usual open source tools.

My preferred choice is (but by no means that is set in stone):

With regards to redundancy it's quite easy to make it redundant, since smtp comes with redundancy built in. The only challenge may be the imap server(s). Since imap is more or less a specialized network filesystem it comes with its own challenges to make it redundant (or failover). Of course if you use pop3 you move that responsibility mostly to the customer...

In my experience the above software is extremely stable and versatile and it it performs well. Feel free to build whatever customer facing layer on top of it, pre-made (open source) solutions are available for that also.

As to how to set it up and all the technicalities that's probably outside the scope of this question.

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