Mar 25, 2011

App Engine's Email service future

From time to time I have seen posts in app engine's groups of people complaining for Email service glitches. Some of those real some not so. Sometimes coming from people who did not bother to read the documentation or just ignorant of what an Email service is all about.
App Engines team response alarmed me a little.
IMHO it is not a good policy for GAE to abandon(?) services middle way
instead of improving - enhancing those.
so I wrote the following post and now I am waiting to see how the conversation evolves.

I agree on most of what you write above, and I understand that you prefer to focus on more important things, also having run Email services for enterprises in the past I do know it is not trivial.
But ....
still I believe Email service is a major asset for GAE and dropping it (or anything to that effect) will constitute a major blow to App Engine.
Gae offers a limited subset of services compared to what a LAMP box or a IaaS box can offer but been a PaaS provides trouble free operation and automatic scalability.
Email service usually is part of any web operation so by dropping it out you farther limit the number of potential applications that fit well into what GAE offers.
Of course, developers can look into alternative options but this makes our life difficult since we have to integrate several other third party services in order to make a working web solution i.e. setting up multiple accounts, feed traffic back and forth to other services, having to monitor and deal with one more possible point of failure. All this defies to some extend the benefits of GAE as a PaaS.
Also, dropping a service in a time when competition is adding services, will sent the wrong signal to App Engine's developers/users echo system and having in mind that G is associated with the best email service can possibly turn into a PR disaster.

Further more, been a regular reader of the groups and following App Engine since the very early days I do not see that Email service has raised a lot of issues. I believe for most people who know what they are doing and do not abuse the service it works quite smoothly. Some of the issues raised (mainly spam flagging)
a) happen to the best of Email services b) are addressed by well known techniques and practices described by others here and elsewhere.
In conclusion:
I would welcome any measure taken to fight service abuse like using GAE primarily as a mail server - we all understand that this is not what GAE is all about.
Instead of dropping the service I would prefer to consider:
a) put false positive spam flagging issues under the responsibility of developers.
b) exclude the service or part of it (like delivery assurances) from the future SLA offer.
c) think about the technical possibility to integrate it to gmail which is the *most* reliable email service in town.