27 March 2018 - Sharon Beilis

Choosing the right email sending solution for your business is crucial to your success. With so many different solutions on the market, it can seem overwhelming when trying to find the perfect solution that will support all of your needs.

We’ve created this guide to review the pros and cons of enterprise class on-premise MTAs (Mail Transfer Agents) and cloud based infrastructures in order to help you make the best choice for your team.

While the debate between these two solutions is a hot topic right now, you need to consider all of the different aspects that matter most to you in order to make an informed decision.

Why choose an on-premise MTA?

Price is the main crux when debating whether to opt with an on-premise MTAs. While up-front costs are high for MTAs, the lifetime value can be more than worth it. When choosing an on-premise MTA, you will most likely pay a one-time license fee and have to fill in a number of IT positions. The upside is that you won’t find yourself paying for each 1,000 emails you send on top of a monthly subscription, like you will with cloud based solutions.

Another benefit on using an on-premise MTA is that you have full control of every minute configuration of email sending. You have the capability to control the exact sending rate and can send to each ISP provider as you see fit. If you possess a lot of technical and theoretical knowledge on the subject, you’ll find yourself with some of the best delivery performance you can achieve.

Security can be counted as another point in the pros column of MTAs. In a similar fashion to the deliverability bullet, if you have a capable manpower in your team, you will own and control your security system in the best way possible.

Finally, unlike with cloud solutions, you can actually tailor build custom integrations with other internal systems and choose which analytics you use and where you store them. This, in addition to creating dynamic HTML feeds of your choosing, can grant you immense freedom in managing your email marketing operation.

As pointed, this freedom and other benefits can come at certain costs. Sometimes, it might be better to go with a cloud based solution

 

Why choose a cloud infrastructure?

MTAs require an entire team to manage its infrastructure and are quite hard to implement. The initial deployment can often take much longer and the initial investment in an MTA is much higher. Some companies do not have the resources or capacity to do this, so instead, they prefer to use a cloud infrastructure.

Your entire team can get up and running in a very short time with a cloud infrastructure. The payment process is also easier because these solutions don’t require upfront hardware or software costs. While you don’t have 100% control with this kind of solution as you do with an on-premise MTA, this can save you many headaches because your cloud vendor will manage all of the internet and programming technology while letting you focus on what you know best about email marketing.

Smaller senders tend to choose a cloud infrastructure over an on-premise MTA. According to Email Vendor Selection, this is because email marketers at smaller companies don’t generally have the internal resources they need to support a complex on-premise sending infrastructure. Scalability is also much easier with cloud solutions, because on-premise MTA solutions require IT resources and time when trying to scale.

While you can’t control the security of your email database as you can with an on-premise MTA, top-tier providers offer top-tier security, which is often acceptable to companies who aren’t overly regulatory.

Although the market is moving toward cloud based solutions, these solutions don’t seem to address the privacy and data security needs some businesses have. But these businesses are representing a small part of the email marketing pie, and many smaller businesses choose to use cloud based infrastructure, while companies with high volume tend to choose hybrid solutions.

 

What are hybrid MTA solutions?

Hybrid solutions provide flexibility to many clients who want to keep their data private and secure while also increasing their deliverability performance. It basically provides companies the best of both worlds without requiring tons of IT effort or internal resources

For example, let’s say you have a home-grown system that you’ve built over the years with custom integrations into the back-office systems for one of your departments. Suddenly, you want to integrate a new department into the system. If you use an on-premise MTA, the IT and development costs will be very high. Using a cloud solution will be much faster and less expensive, but it won’t support the complex systems you’ll need it to. In such a case, operating a hybrid solution for the overall organization makes the most sense for all parties and is almost always the most cost efficient.

This solution allows email marketers to quickly scale their email marketing efforts in a cost effective way. It also offers some most welcome redundancy. Having an additional cloud solution for maintenance and any outages of your on-premise system can be the most cost effective strategy rather than maintaining two on-premise solutions in two different locations

 Finally, If you have a large database of very active subscribers, you can use your cloud marketing for all your regular marketing mailings and migrate your most active ones to your on-premise platform. There are 2 benefits for doing so - you don’t pay for CPM, and you don’t hurt your IP reputation with inactive users.

 

What should you consider when choosing between on-premise MTAs and a cloud based email infrastructure?

When considering which solution to choose, make sure to take into account technical abilities, cost and features. Each company and product has their own needs, and by understanding your own needs, you will know which solution is the best fit for you.

If you are considering to adopt an on-premise MTA and to manage the entire system internally, you need to ask yourself if your team has the technical abilities to manage the complex system. If you are short on such a valuable resource, you may want to consider choosing a cloud based infrastructure.

You should also take into account the cost and feature differences. Some MTAs are less expensive than cloud solutions over time, but have different features. Make sure to speak to each provider about different payment options and how customizable each solution is. You want to make sure you know all of the features behind each solution before you make a final decision.

Perform research and brainstorm together as a team about what your needs are and which pros outweigh the cons. Making a decision isn’t easy, but when you are completely informed and on the same page, you will make the right choice.

 

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