There’s always something to howl about

Living in the cloud, Part I: Rethinking our email strategy

The other day I went through our cloud-centered email strategy:

I have my mail set up like this: From my iMac in the office, certain categories of email — initial client contacts plus mail from anyone in my Address Book — are redirected to a unique iPhone-only gmail account. That way, I get echoes of the mail that matters to me, with zero spam. The iPhone’s mail account won’t honor my gmail Reply To setting, which sucks, but, as above, the advantage is that I have my important email wherever I happen to be working.

I thought it was adequate at the time. But then the power failed…

In circumstances like these, I have fallen back to SquirrelMail, a Unix-based server-side mail client. That turns out to be less than ideal.

We got the power back today, and I was ready at once to implement our new email strategy.

Note that this little episode illustrates why it is so useful to control your own web hosting, at least at the mail-server level.

Here’s what we’re doing, as of this afternoon:

At the file server, my main email account ( is being echoed to a new gmail account I created today. That account is simply intended to be a duplicate catch-all for all my inbound mail.

My iMac continues to receive my mail and to process it according to the rules discussed above — provided my iMac is working.

Under normal conditions, my email will be handled just as described above. But in the event of a power failure or serious crash, I will still have access to all of my mail from any computer anywhere, including my iPhone, without having to screw around with SquirrelMail.

Our cloud strategies are all about redundancy. I don’t care that I might have to react to up to three copies of any piece of email. My fear is that instead of three copies I will have zero copies to work with.

I worked out a redundant cloud-based fax strategy, too, that I’ll be talking about later.

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2 Comments so far

  1. Eric Bramlett August 30th, 2008 3:01 pm

    Greg –

    Check out google apps. You can set up your email to run through big G, and use the same web based apps as gmail. It’s legit.

  2. Greg Swann August 30th, 2008 4:29 pm

    > You can set up your email to run through big G, and use the same web based apps as gmail. It’s legit.

    Oh, I know. We don’t want to do this for a couple of reasons:

    1. Google mail fails, as it has twice in the last couple of weeks. We’re triangulating to route around failure.

    2. I still want the rules-processing for email that I get on my iMac and Cathy gets from (ick) Outlook.

    If we lose our server, we lose everything. But our host is in the guaranteed uptime business, so I’m doing what I can to leverage that resource.