ComputerSense: We have had all our Xtra Business customers affected (or rather, "infected") with this issue.
The issue arose late Friday (4th) afternoon and is still ongoing as of today.
After speaking to their Complex Technical Support team (and speaking in SMTP language) and being “escalated” a number of times I eventually ended up having a geek-to-geek conversation with an engineer who knew what he was talking about (it’s rare but it DOES happen).
I recorded the conversation; luckily I did as the conversation captured the “cat out of the bag” and admittance that the entire Telecom/Xtra Network has been [once again] Blacklisted – this time in a VERY serious way.
All our customers’ Exchange Servers that were configured with Xtra’s Smart Host for sending were changed to route Email via DNS – problem instantaneously fixed!
However (my favourite word), it’s still pretty pointless if the sent Emails are being routed to another Xtra customer affected by the same issue but it has resolved the immediate crisis of Emails bogging up in the Exchange Queue.
Why would you want to use Xtra’s Smart Host to route your Email in the first place?
The answer is VERY simple; a large portion of recipients of our business customers are also on the Xtra Network. If you use DNS to route Email to Xtra (and Yahoo) customers the Email either goes “poof” or ends up in the recipients Junk/Spam folder – I am yet to find an Xtra Email customer that actually knows how to check their Junk/Spam folders.
Xtra does not like Email that it receives from an “un-trusted” source and thus gives it a low-reputation which triggers all sorts of actions with AntiSpam filters.
To best ensure that all bases are covered we like to use an ISP’s Smart Host as a first choice.
Given that most ISP’s Smart Hosts have limitations in Email sizes, using a Smart Host will not allow a customer to route large attachments (as required by many of our Legal and Accountancy customers). So, it (using a Smart Host) may not always be ideal and, especially in times of trouble (like now) will cause chaos.
ComputerSense: This is more a question than a reply...
We had a customer with the EXACT issue you are experiencing (although maybe not as bad as yours). After "enough is enough" we started by transferring the customer’s domains (they have four Email domains in total) from Xtra to Discount Domains - lo-and-behold, as soon as propagation started the issues disappeared!
The customer is wrapped, have full control of their DNS configuration online and immediate – not to mention cheaper!
My question to them super-geeks out there is; Why? The customer’s ADSL connection is still on Xtra and they’re using Exchange.
Something sinister is going on...
ComputerSense: All ISPs will supply a static IP address if you apply for it. We have customers with static IPs on Orcon, Clear, Vodafone, CallPlus to name only a few.
Yes, Discount Domains is local and "made in NZ".
SMTP would "seem" to be unreliable if actions that "Zeon" mentioned are not implemented. Even omitting to setup RDNS and/or SPF. SMTP is "direct and to the point" and is the most reliable mechanism which can be "track and traced" to troubleshoot issues. Failures are reported in a clear fashion (with the help of an SMTP dictionary of course) and can be used to pin-point delivery failures very accurately. SMTP delivery issues are mostly caused by the receiving system being unhappy with the reputation of your own (ISP's) network which can be fixed with RDNS and SPF.
triad: So here's a dilema for me:
1. Keep Xtra as smarthost and keep xtra responsible for delivery
2. Hire another smarthost, such as Discount Domains and get rid of Xtra smtp forever, still third party is responsible for delivery.
3. Use RDNS, SPF and SMTP but have to troubleshoot and be responsible for delivery issues.
Only thing that scares me out is ending up with something even more unreliable, and my customer is quite "not little" .. email is really vital for them.