Imagine for a moment that you were sitting in a meeting listening to a post-mortem on a delivery incident. Your team was busy chewing through a litany of issues from mail injection failures to unknown bounce codes and throttling issues that resulted in a simple fact: your emails didn’t reach your customers. Thoughts race through your mind:

‘I should fire everyone!’

‘Maybe it’s time to get an ESP?!’

‘My grandmother could tune those MTAs faster!’

‘Open source = open heart surgery with obsidian knives and no anesthetic…’

‘Calgon take me away.’

And then it hits you like a ton of bricks: maybe its time for a new MTA. Yeah, that’s the ticket, it’s time to switch our entire mailing infrastructure, the one we’ve been working on for 2-3 years that looks like the kind of Jackson Pollack art left on a wall when you throw a plate of spaghetti marinara in anger.

Excitedly you stand up and announce that you’ve come up with a solution to the ongoing deliverability problems facing your company: “Team, it’s time we scrap our current MTA and switch to a more sophisticated platform purpose built for high volume sending and deliverability!”

A tense moment passes; sweat begins to trickle down your forehead. The lights dim and your colleagues shed their innocence—they’re no longer your colleagues—you’re staring at a frightened and crazed mob!

However far fetched this fictionalized account of an MTA swap might sound it isn’t too far from the truth either. Switching an MTA can inspire, in the best case, heated debate; worse case scenarios might be closer to what happened to poor Caesar in the senate. In truth, an MTA swap can be just the antidote your organization needs in a time of crisis.

Short Term Pain For Long Term Gain

Overcoming organizational challenges to MTA swapping varies depending on how your mailing infrastructure has evolved, and the kind of footprint it now has.

The Open Source Frankenstein

It started with a couple engineers and a Gnu license but has since taken on a life of its own. It no longer resembles the original product, or is used for whatever it was originally meant to do. Lots of code went hand in hand with lots of cooks and engineers that have since flown the coop. You spend upwards of $500,000 a year in customizing it, maintaining it and throwing more hardware at it when you need more capacity. It is, for all intents and purposes, a Frankenstein—a monster built from scraps and salvaged parts and kept alive by a supernatural force that comes straight out of your wallet. And, like the 19th century creature’s namesake, it’s about as efficient as a delivery engine as a horseless carriage.

The Fuselage Without Wings

Five years ago someone knew someone that knew someone and that someone said you should buy this thing that would change your email into something awesome. So you spent the money on a second rate MTA—you’re a hero because you saved the company money! Then it arrives. You get the box, read the manual and realize that this spruce goose comes without wings. So you rope in your Director of Engineering; he’s not thrilled that you pulled him into this IT project because he’s busy ensuring your product actually makes money. Your cost savings just went down the toilet and your Director of Engineer is now breathing down your throat like Attila the Hun. Congratulations, you’re building the wings for your plane and wondering if it wasn’t more cost effective to go DIY all together. I mean if you’re going to inspire the ire of your director, you might as well save more money to pay for the resource suck you’ve just created.

The ESP and Me

Your ESP sends your email—you’re happy with them so long as the mail arrives on time. But, like all vendors they need to make money, and since the CPM market is all but stabilized and the best you can do is save a quarter cent per million by changing vendors, they charge you for account management, deliverability, data exports and more. It’s a nickel and dime fiesta and you’re the only one not dancing. Since it’s 2014 and not 1999 you feel your data should be accessible anytime, anywhere and as soon as an event, like an open, occurs. Unfortunately the best your ESP can do is give you a nightly export or a data dump every four hours as their system parses through your data and the hundreds of other customers they service. Your business is definitely valued, don’t forget that, it’s just not as valuable as the customer that pays them a half million a year and has a four-hour SLA and five account managers at their disposal.

In all of these scenarios, the real costs are not the pain and suffering, the man-hours and resources required to make the switch. No, the costs and the pain are rooted in correcting a terrible mistake that has cost you (and will continue to cost you) real dollars and countless man-hours. Switching an MTA isn’t just about acquiring the ability to send email based on modern sending standards, security and having access to data in real time. It’s about coming to terms with the idea that good enough isn’t good enough and won’t be good enough two or three years from now when you’re so far behind the times, the cost to change will be soul crushing.

That’s right, the pain you suffer today, or think you will suffer by switching to a future-proof email platform, is nothing compared to the fire drills you will avoid because your platform isn’t ready to evolve with the market. Email hasn’t changed all that much, but the technology to secure the channel, authenticate and analyze the medium’s efficacy has evolved beyond anything its creators’ envisioned when they sent those first emails 30+ years ago.

Email is part of a robust and complicated ecosystem of outbound communication channels and feedback loops that fast track data into repositories for crunching and analysis against other customer metrics for distillation into new campaigns and communications. Email is more than just email—email is the outward manifestation that you’re a company capable of doing business in a manner that has been accepted as the gold standard on the Internet. What’s that worth to you?

Looking to make a switch? Find out what questions you should be asking to make the right decision in Finding the Ideal Email Solution Provider.


It’s no secret that Momentum delivers over 20% of global legitimate email traffic. With the availability of open source and low-cost commodity message transfer agents out there, that’s no small feat. Time and time again, the world’s biggest senders such as social networks, email service providers and cloud-based companies choose Momentum over commodity MTAs. We’re talking companies like Facebook, Twitter, PayPal and Yesmail, among many other industry leaders. Why, you ask? That’s because these companies understand the importance of being able to count on a platform that has high deliverability, scalability, performance, professional support and no hidden cost. With a commodity MTA, you can expect a bumpy ride that is seconds from disaster. With Momentum, you’re getting the best the industry has to offer, and a smooth sailing ride to ensure your mail gets to its destination.


Find out more about how Momentum outperforms commodity MTAs with the Momentum vs Commodity MTAs white paper.



By Kim Matz & Kate Nowrouzi

Message Systems’ Adaptive Delivery® solves the ongoing deliverability management issues faced by Email Service Providers (ESP) today.

It’s the only solution that monitors temporary failure codes, hard bounces and spam complaint rates, and automatically manages your traffic flow. Adaptive Delivery slows traffic when a receiving domain returns warning messages or bounce and complaint rates rise.  When warning indicators lower, Adaptive Delivery slowly and automatically raises traffic rates.  Over time, Adaptive Delivery builds the traffic volume the receiver is willing to accept.  Momentum ensures issues with one domain do not impact the rest of the traffic by managing traffic to each receiving domain independently via the most sophisticated and comprehensive queue management and traffic shaping capabilities that are core to our solution.

Here’s an example of an alert generated by Adaptive Delivery:

The alert pertains to:
Host: MTA1-marketing
Trigger: 421 4.7.0 [TS01] Messages from temporarily deferred  –;
Action: adjusting throttle down

The system provides SMTP notifications to staff members when conditions are met that warrant human involvement. Not every bounce or deferral requires immediate attention – understanding the difference between normal delays and critical blocks is key to off-loading manual monitoring duties from already overloaded staff… only Adaptive Delivery can do this.

Without Adaptive Delivery, ESPs leave money on the table and their very valuable deliverability team spends time on reactive tasks like:

  • Updating bounce definitions;
  • Monitoring hard & soft bounces;
  • Monitoring Feedback Loops for complaint spikes;
  • Adjusting throughput, connection rates and throttling to comply with ISP requirements; or,
  • Creating and executing ramp up/warm up plans to build positive reputation on new IPs.

Only Message Systems’ Adaptive Delivery allows them to focus on strategic projects that drive serious revenue.

Watch the video below to see how some of our clients have benefited from using Adaptive Delivery.

About The Authors:

Kim Matz is VP of enterprise sales, US East at Message Systems. An experienced technology industry executive, Kim heads up Message Systems’ email services provider practice, working with many of the largest ESPs in North America. Kim writes frequently on issues and trends in the ESP space. 

Kate is director of Product Policy at Message Systems. A recognized authority on email deliverability and anti-spam practices for the past 14 years, Kate worked for many years on the anti-abuse team at AOL and was also a network engineer at the pioneering ISP UUNet/ Verizon Communications (credit proulx). Kate is a member of M3AAWG and OTA and continues to be an active voice in the worldwide messaging community. 

Want to find out more about what Adaptive Delivery can do for your business? Download our free white paper on Improving Delivery & Reducing Costs Through Automation!

Adaptive Delivery Whitepaper