Two Days of DMARC

I recently attended a two-day event at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, CA.  The event was to test interoperability of various implementations of Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC). As SmarterMail supports DMARC, the appeal of this conference meant that we would be able to interact with service providers who are actively working on the DMARC specification and to ensure that our implementation was on track.

What is DMARC?

For those unfamiliar with it, DMARC is a specification that builds upon SPF and DKIM allowing the domain owner control of what happens to messages purporting to be sent from that domain but failing either of those authentication mechanisms. The main piece that differentiates DMARC from anything that has come before it is the reporting aspect.  The receiving mail servers report back on a regular interval to domains implementing DMARC policies.  The reports contain information on the affect those policies are having on delivery of messages from that domain to the reporting server.  This allows the domain owner to make informed decisions on what changes to make to their policy.

The Event Itself

I haven’t been to an event like this previously so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The attendees were mostly very large mail services including AOL, Yahoo, Google, LinkedIn, CloudMark and Facebook of course.  Interestingly, Microsoft was not there.  What I found more interesting, however, was that SmarterTools was the only company in attendance, at least that I am aware of, that offers a mail server (not as a service).  I would estimate the attendance around 25 people, so it was a small gathering.

The actual event consisted of two days of working on DMARC implementations.  As boring as that may sound, the specification is a work in progress with the hopes of going through IETF for standardization as an RFC.  Therefore, being able to work with it on this level – before it is actually adopted – and to sit in a room with the people responsible for its development and interact with them was a great and enlightening experience. The specification seems fairly complete at this point although there were a couple conversations that could affect some small changes to it.  I came away from the event with a few improvements to our DMARC implementation as well as some homework for a couple more.  These changes will all be part of our SmarterMail 10.1 release on August 2nd.

Work Fast and Break Things

Since the event was held at Facebook, I’m sure there are people wondering what Facebook life is like. Unfortunately, my exposure was very limited.  It consisted of the main building where I received a temporary guest badge and was then chaperoned to the building where we worked for the remainder of the day.  We did not get a tour of the campus.  Walking out the back of the main “check in” building did give me the impression that I was in “Facebookland”, with lots of young people wearing Facebook shirts walking this way and that and with two rows of identical buildings framing the activity.  So while I didn’t get to see a large portion of what Facebook is about, the feeling I took from what I did see was a very young and energetic company.

The first floor of the building where we worked was a very large dining hall where we ate breakfast and lunch courtesy of Facebook.  Two thumbs up on the quality of the food.  A Facebook employee explained that they have another dining hall of equal size on the other side of the campus and each one serves a different theme each day, so if you don’t like what is being served at one you just hike over to the other one.  They also have a barbecue option that is available every day.

On the second floor where we worked I saw a couple signs that said things like “work fast” and “be bold” which I figured were motivational signs but then I realized those were actually the names of the rooms.  We were in “be bold”.  On the night I arrived at the hotel in Palo Alto, I watched a program on Facebook and one of their mottoes was “work fast and break things”.  I did not see the “break things” room, but I imagine it with chairs and tables bolted to the floor and lots of rubberized, rounded corners.

All in all, the conference was a great experience. I was very surprised that some of our competitors weren’t there and that SmarterTools was the only mail server developer who attended. Then again, we do try and stay as up-to-date as possible on the latest technologies being developed that affect the email industry. Being able to sit in a room and listen to, and participate in, a discussion about a new specification was a great experience. It not only gave me greater insight into the whole approval process but also will improve how SmarterMail integrates DMARC moving forward. Then, there was the food and the whole Facebook part of it. Not a bad way to spend a couple of days, if you ask me.

This post was written by Bryon Grosz, the development manager for SmarterMail, SmarterTools’ Microsoft Exchange replacement mail and collaboration software. If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to the SmarterTools Blog so you don’t miss an update.

Apple throws down the social gauntlet

There’s already a ton of press about Apple’s WWDC, and a lot of discussion about the next generation MacBook Pro, iOS 6, Mountain Lion and more. Some things of note: Engadget has a good review of the new MacBook Pro, John Gruber at DaringFireball breaks it all down into 3 main takeaways, and of course, there’s all the coverage from the Verge. I won’t rehash any of what’s been discussed, but there are a couple of things that I found particularly intriguing that don’t seem to be getting much coverage.

Apple made a big deal about being able to share maps, photos and web pages through social networks and the integration of Twitter (the deeper integration, that is) and Facebook that’s coming in iOS 6. This means that more people will be able to share things with their existing social accounts. Not terribly earth shattering, but it’s something that all of the iOS users I know have been clamoring for. In the background, however, is something that’s even more intriguing.

The first is Apple’s sharing capabilities beyond just Facebook and Twitter. Apple is placing a ton of  importance on Apple IDs and the complement of Mountain Lion and iOS 6 seamlessly integrating the desktop and mobile experiences. Take a picture on your iPhone and it appears on your desktop. Create a document on your desktop and you can not only view it on your mobile device, but edit it as well. Microsoft is moving in this direction with Windows 8, but from what I’ve seen and heard, their efforts aren’t nearly as seamless. Apple is truly blurring the lines between the desktop and mobile in a way the others can only hope to do.

Beyond that, however, and even more interesting, are the new sharing features for photo streams. You will soon be able to share pictures with people in your address book, and those people will not only get a shared album in their own photo stream but they will be able to comment on these photos as well. That is HUGE! That means that Apple users have the ability to share with true friends – NOT Facebook friends, or business associates, people you knew in the 7th Grade or other acquaintances and followers that you’ve accumulated since you signed up for Twitter and Facebook. These are actual friends of yours. These are people you regularly call, message and interact with. This, more than anything else, is the beginning of the Apple social network.

Look at it this way: one of the major uses of Facebook is photo sharing. However, photo sharing was never easy in Facebook. Have you ever tried to share a photo with just a few Facebook friends? It’s difficult at best. Photo sharing is so popular that Facebook bought Instagram and then released their own camera app (and what platform got the Facebook camera first?). However, the iPhone is one of the most popular cameras out there and with the new sharing and commenting features in photo stream, Apple takes the primary Facebook hook and brings it back into iOS and the desktop. Users can now share pictures with JUST true friends and the people they are closest to. They are filling in the gap between sharing with “friends” and sharing with friends.

Finally is Passbook. This is Apple moving into Square and Google Wallet territory. It can’t be anything but…especially since it already mirrors Square’s Card Case. The implications of this are huge, and Dan Rowinski over at ReadWriteWeb does a much better job of breaking it down that I could. Suffice it to say that Apple is moving towards processing transactions, just as a Visa or Amex do, but couple that power with the ability to provide services that neither Visa or Amex could ever hope to provide.

There are some that are saying that Monday’s keynote at the WWDC was an attempt to throw down the gauntlet with Google. Well, that could be, but it may have been an even subtler jab at Facebook. Apple looks to be moving towards creating their own social network. I guess only time will tell.

The Value of Email

There is a lot of talk these days about social media–its import, its impact, its value and its effect on how we do business and communicate. What’s lost in all this discussion, however, is any recognition for the only consistent and pervasive similarity between ALL social media outlets, from Twitter to Facebook to Google+: email.

Why is that?

Well, there are a few reasons. The most obvious one is that email is ubiquitous and is a commodity–it’s almost become a generic service. As such, it seems to get lost in the shuffle when people talk about the latest and greatest service release. It’s so persistent in our lives that we tend to forget that it exists. However, now more than ever, email is possibly the most valuable commodity each and everyone one of us owns. Need proof?

  1. In the Internet Age, email has become the most common unique identifier an individual possesses, surpassing things like Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers or other, more traditional means of identity.
  2. Your email address has a dollar value attached to it. Your email address ranks near your social security number and your credit history as the one piece of data that advertisers and marketers feel has the greatest value to them.
  3. Email is central to EVERYTHING you do online. You need an email address to sign up for things like newsletters and promotions, to order items online and you even need an email address before you can sign up for social media services like Twitter and Facebook.
  4. Email is everywhere. Anyone who owns a computer has an email address and these days virtually everyone has at least a computer, tablet or smartphone that they carry around. In fact, the Google Android mobile OS even requires a Google account–including a Gmail address–in order to operate. Your iPod and iPad sync to Apple’s iTunes service, which requires an email address. Since email is required in order for these things to operate, you could technically NEVER even use email–never send an email, never check your email account–yet you NEED an email address in order to get around in today’s online economy. Email truly IS everywhere.

The list goes on and on. The infographic below places email side-by-side against social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and even demonstrates email’s ubiquity when compared to the number of searches Internet users perform. IN ALL CASES, email reigns supreme. Legitimate email usage is far larger that social media, total searches, and even total internet pageviews combined. (Note: Click on the infographic to open it in a new window.)

Now to the data. Here are links to some of the sources used to gather and present the information in the above infographic:

For more information on the value of email, be sure to check out the following posts that correspond to a talk Jeff Hardy, vice-president of business operations, gave at HostingCon 2011 in August:

And here’s some media perspective on the discussion, courtesy of ReadWriteWeb:

This post was written by Derek C., vice president of marketing and communications for SmarterTools. If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to the SmarterTools Blog so you don’t miss an update.

The Lessons of ‘The Ten’: Why Google and Microsoft Want Your Email

It’s no secret that those so-called “free” email accounts from Google, Microsoft or Yahoo! aren’t really free. After all, you can’t get something for nothing. What you may not realize is how much revenue your single “free” email account can bring to the companies that offer them.

In his presentation “The Lessons of ‘The Ten’: Why Google and Microsoft Want Your Email,” SmarterTools Vice-President Jeff Hardy reiterates that the cost of providing email is inexpensive—less than $0.04 per mailbox for enterprise-level email and less than $0.39 per mailbox for Exchange-replacement level email—but the potential profits off email are exponential.

That’s because one hosting account doesn’t represent a single person; it represents an average of 10 people who can become loyal customers that pay for additional products and services. If hosting or email providers market to those 10 people, they’ll be successful.

Want to know more? Download “The Lessons of ‘The Ten’: Why Google and Microsoft Want Your Email” slideshow from HostingCon 2011.

This post was written by Tiffany D., a marketing and technical communications specialist for SmarterTools. If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to the SmarterTools Blog so you don’t miss an update.

Social Media Killed The Email Star

Since 2007, tech pundits have been declaring the death of email, citing a declining use among teens. Its purported killer? Social media.

Four years is an awfully long time to sound the death bells for a medium that’s used daily by billions of people across the globe, especially since you can’t even register for social media service like Google+, Facebook or Twitter without a valid email address—proof that social media didn’t kill the email star; it just rode its coattails to fame.

While there’s no doubt social media has changed the way we communicate, email remains one of “the most popular activities on the Web,” according to comScore. It’s also among the most lucrative, as companies like Google and Microsoft can attest.

Do you know why? We do, and we’re sharing that knowledge at 11 a.m. on Monday, August 8 at HostingCon 2011 during a presentation titled “The Lessons of ‘The Ten’: Why Google and Microsoft Want Your Email.” Join us!

This post was written by Tiffany D., a marketing and technical communications specialist for SmarterTools. If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to the SmarterTools Blog so you don’t miss an update.


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