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Hurricane Sandy and MX Failover

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MayFlower provides MX Failover to all SpamSentinel customers in cases of emergency, as Hurricane Sandy has proven to be.

Currently, we have a law firm in New York and their mail is queueing up on our servers here, waiting for them to return to work (who knows when?). They are not responding to phone calls, which makes sense, as much of New York city is still having problems with water and electric power.

Many times, when I explain MX failover to customers, they generally say that they have redundant servers. Having done disaster recovery planning with ADP (the check processing people), I learned of the many ways problems can occur, and it is often not what you expect. Many organizations already have redundant or clustered servers, good power supplies, uninterruptible power supplies via batteries, and some have dual internet providers.

So, when I explain why the MX Failover service is needed, many say "SMTP is a fault tolerant protocol. The sender will hold the mail and resend.  But who wants to rely on the sender to resend the mail? And what if it takes 4 days to get power back?

The main reason is that MX Failover is totally invisible until you need it.

We tell customers to set their MX records like this:

10 Internal Server
10 (Optional) Redundant Internal Server
20 Any Other Organizational Server(s)
50 SpamSentinel MX Failover Servers

This way, all "good" senders will connect directly to their on-premise servers, and all we get is spam (oh well).  In the rare case of a Hurricane or other unforeseen event, we hold all of their mail, and call them via telephone (remember, we have all their mail and they cannot get to it) and tell them they have a problem and then wait for instructions from them. Oftentimes, our phone call is the first they are aware of the problem (although this was not the case with Hurricane Sandy).

Once we have the mail, and it looks like the outage will last for many days, we can do all sorts of things to get it to people. For a small law firm, we can forward it all to a single gmail account.For a large organization, we can setup temporary mailboxes, or redirect it to a server in a different geography.  Or we can just hold it indefinitely, as we queue it up in non-mail databases so that we can hold it until we receive instructions to release it.

MX Failover is part of our software offering for On-Premise customers. Take advantage of it.

So, for all SpamSentinel customers, contact me, Frank Paolino, and I will make sure you have this failover service!

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