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How does AWS Simple Email Service differ from my email server?

Our business sends promotional emails and newsletters. We like our current email server, but could AWS Simple Email Service help with our marketing efforts?

Amazon Simple Email Service is a product that sends bulk email messages. As with other AWS offerings, users pay...

for SES in a pay-per-use model.

Simple Email Service (SES) is not a replacement for your business' email server or service. SES is only used to push messages to recipients; there is no support for receiving email. This makes SES suitable for distributing newsletters, sales promotion content or other material sent to a large number of recipients.

There are multiple ways to send messages through AWS Simple Email Service. The service provides Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) endpoints so applications that work with SMTP should work with SES. Alternatively, users can use the SES API. With the SendMail API function, users input a source address, destination address, subject and message body. The function then constructs a properly formatted Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME) message and sends it on your behalf. For users that want to control the format of their messages, the SendRawMail API function gives the sender control over MIME parts and content types. SES also supports messages with attachments.

AWS Simple Email Service can be used as a standalone service, but is especially useful for those already running other AWS services, such as databases and analytics. For example, customer data stored in Relational Database Service may be combined with streaming data from Web or mobile applications captured in DynamoDB and analyzed using Spark on Elastic MapReduce. The analytics programs could determine the customers most likely to respond to an email offer and then generate a message for SES to send.

SES users can take advantage of Domain Keys Identified Email  to sign their messages. This legitimizes the email message and allows ISPs to detect doctored messages.

There are some restrictions on the type of content allowed in AWS Simple Email Service. AWS filters messages to prevent spamming. Email messages have to comply with AWS' acceptable use policy, which includes typical restrictions on sending offensive content, infringing on content rights or committing fraud.

AWS Simple Email Service is a simple mail service with basic reporting features. But for applications that require minimal functionality from an email service, it's an option worth considering.

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This was last published in August 2015

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