Dynamic Distribution Groups in Live@edu

Sending an email to lots of users is not just the preserve of spam bots and marketers it’s also something people need to do with perfect legitimacy. Take, for example, the warden for a university halls of residence who may want to email all his resident students to welcome them to their new home for the year, or the head teacher who needs to email all the students in a school to tell them about the school sports day this summer…

In a medium to large institution this could easily run into the tens-of-thousands of recipients, but with limitations on the number of emails that can be sent from a Live@edu account in one day (500, in case you were wondering!) – what’s the best way to do it?

In this blog post I will cover two ways to achieve a successful ‘mass mail’:

1. On-Premises Exchange

IMAG0003The first, and simplest, answer is to maintain an on-premises mail server to handle these big mail-shots. As the server is locally hosted and administered it doesn’t fall under the limitations of the Live@edu mail service and therefore can send as many emails as the institution defines as its limit.

There are some considerations for adopting this method:

  • Whitelisting the server is a must. Failing to do so with Live@edu may result in your local mail server being blocked for spam; resulting in several days of interrupted service as it can take up to three business days to unblock an IP address.
  • This method is not particularly dynamic.
  • This method is not free as it requires the continued maintenance of a local mail server. Depending on your deployment, and requirements, this may be an issue.

2. Dynamic Distribution Groups

Cloud_in_the_sunlightDynamic Distribution Groups (DDGs) are my current class favourite. Dynamic in name and nature this wonderful distribution group type allows a practically limitless number of recipients to receive email.

Unlike a standard distribution group where a mail sent to a group containing 25 recipients would count as 25 separate emails, a DDG calculates the recipients on the fly determining who should be sent the email based on a set of criteria specified when the DDG is created. So a DDG that would result in 500 people being emailed would still only count as 1 email.

Food for thought:

  • DDGs check the recipients every time you send an email, so if a new person who would be eligible for the email joins the GAL then they will receive it automatically.
  • DDGs can include external mail contacts.
  • DDGs can be hidden from the GAL.
  • Security – who can send to the DDG – can be applied to prevent abuse.

Further reading:

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