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Perfect Storm Brewing at ESPs Amidst Growing PowerMTA Admin Crisis

Fred Tabsharani

Sometimes, a software company is as much about people as it is about technology.

Who says PowerMTA admins don't have influence? Not only are they the influencers of our brand [Port25] they are also the main influencers and decision-makers when it comes to purchasing decisions. With the increased demand for PowerMTA evaluations and a shortfall of experienced PowerMTA administrators, enterprises and ESPs that deploy PowerMTA are finding it challenging to administer ever-increasing levels of unilateral (on premise, in-house) and bi-lateral (hybrid: both on premise and cloud) deployments.

This demand has begun to surface in unfilled positions as companies that deploy PowerMTA as a platform are noticing a severe shortage of experienced PowerMTA admins throughout the US and Europe. Some of the people stepping up to fill that demand are coming from the last place you would expect. You'll have to wait to the end to find out where.

At small ESPs, you might find the delivery administrator wearing many different hats, including trouble shooting customer facing non-technical delivery questions and also managing the technical aspects of the MTA such as analyzing log files. At larger enterprises and maturing ESPs, you find customer facing delivery teams separate from the technical delivery teams or pure MTA administrators.

Here is a quote from an experienced delivery admin at a large ESP:

"Our attempt to hire a senior PowerMTA admin was a complete failure. To quote my director, "there are none." I would make two statements. Those that know SMTP are very rare. The other comment is that the pecking order in tech is as follows:

  • Product
  • Sales
  • Development
  • Infrastructure

PowerMTA admins fall under infrastructure, at the bottom of the hierarchy, or at the top, depending on who you ask… :) Within infrastructure, MTA admins are unicorns. A senior router, senior DBA, or senior virtualization admin will always carry more weight in an IT organization than an MTA admin because those roles have value measured by the general IT industry. Yet, the MTA administrator holds an increasingly more responsible role among the "infrastructure subset."

* * *

Outside of an organization that sends email on behalf of others, MTA admins are a merely "nice to have," or "extras." In addition, outsourcing message streams to the cloud has become viable alternative for some enterprises.

* * *

Authorized PowerMTA consultants such at companies like Postmastery, founded by Maarten Oelering, are seeing a sharp increase in demand for consulting services both domestically and abroad. This is not necessarily something new, but demand has spiked over the past quarter. Through his encounters with PowerMTA admins, he posits: "the PowerMTA admin position is a "task" and not a "job". The people I know that do PowerMTA administration have a broader set of skills and duties, related to email deliverability, or related to system administration."

Deliverability administrators at some of the largest senders in the world (companies like ExactTarget, now a Salesforce company), have asked me to help them find experienced PowerMTA administrators for both remote and in-house opportunities. ExactTarget and Pardot, both deploy on the PowerMTA platform and both owned by SalesForce, send close to 1B emails per day. This number continues to grow, according to a source at ExactTarget.

Further, at the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG), we're looking at facilitating a PowerMTA training session at an upcoming meeting, perhaps Philadelphia or Paris. The goal of this training session is two-fold: to introduce PowerMTA to new IT admins and to hone the skills of experienced PowerMTA admins, and prepare them to enter the workforce at larger enterprises. Students entering ongoing one-day workshops will be introduced to out of the box delivery settings and configurations that ISPs and the dev team at PowerMTA recommend. Students will also learn advanced bounce management logging analysis, along with how to integrate popular services like Splunk and Kibana from ElasticSearch for optimal data visuals. Other essential tools and integrations will also be shared.

That surprising source of new MTA admin talent? Hollywood. Actress Katie Holmes was recently interviewed by Email Service Provider Listrak to take on a PowerMTA admin position that would include managing privacy and compliance. Gwyneth Paltrow just accepted a PowerMTA position with ESP Pinpointe, where she will be working closely with Craig Stouffer. I also know through our client SailThru, a well-known ESP based in New York has hired a PowerMTA admin with some history working in Hollywood. Her name has not been released. Hard to believe , but Cindy Crawford is finally getting out of modeling: she recently was interviewed by the delivery team at MyEmma and hopes to come on board in short order as a PowerMTA admin working closely with Marc Powell and Art Quanstrom. Is it April yet?

Amid this shortage of PowerMTA administrators, development for both enterprise and standard editions PowerMTA has never been more robust. And, I'll release more wonderful news about PowerMTA in the very near future. If you are a PowerMTA consultant or a vendor who supports PowerMTA, I'd love to hear from you. Keep an eye out for that M3AAWG training certification course at M3AAWG.

By Fred Tabsharani, Director of Data Access at Zetalytics Fred has spent the last two decades in IT and holds an MBA from John F. Kennedy University. Zetalytics, led by April Lorenzen, is a threat intel organization based in Rhode Island. Clients include, Microsoft, MailChimp, Northrop Grumman and many others. Fred is an 8 year veteran of M3AAWG. Visit Page
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