Businesses have more options than ever for choosing email sending infrastructure: from on-premises servers to full-service, hands-off marketing solutions—and everything in between.

What’s the best approach for managing high-volume email today? It’s tempting to say there’s one, easy answer for every scenario. While we at SparkPost are undeniably believers in the cloud, we also know that many companies have made significant investments in on-premises software over the years. Moreover, a particular company may have other business factors that preclude wholesale move away from their existing infrastructure.

whiteboardcloudThe truth is, we think SparkPost provides an ideal middle ground between in-house infrastructure and full-service marketing providers. We deliver both the scalability and operational expertise of a dedicated cloud provider with the API-driven control and extensibility of specialized software products like Momentum and PowerMTA. In fact, it’s this combination of qualities that makes SparkPost an ideal candidate for deploying a hybrid approach to email infrastructure: one that combines the best of the cloud with the existing footprint of on-premises investments.

Here are five scenarios where this hybrid approach makes a lot of sense.

1. Creating options for diverse mail streams. A big benefit of a hybrid email infrastructure is flexibility. Some types of mail are easily segregated to the cloud, while others might be tightly coupled to other in-house systems. For example, marketing messages to well-defined customer segments might be easily migrated to cloud-based sending, while transactional mail, like password resets or shipping confirmations might be generated by in-house systems that offer limited external integration options. A hybrid approach allows you to pick and choose the best solution for each mail stream your company might have—and gives you some runway room to extricate transactional message generation from legacy systems over time. (By the way, segregating different types of mail streams into dedicated address spaces also is a best practice that leads to better deliverability.)

2. Offloading deliverability headaches to the experts. Managing the inbox performance of email programs is no easy task. There are countless factors that shape inbox performance, and these rules are constantly changing as ISPs fight against spammers and other bad actors. SparkPost’s deliverability team is the industry’s best—and their expertise gets results, whether a message is generated completely in our system or relayed from an on-premises server configured to work with our cloud. That deliverability improvement is a quick win for anyone deploying a hybrid cloud approach. Outsourcing your sending also means offloading the headaches of maintaining and managing your own IP reputation, along with the costs associated with monitoring it. Better inbox performance, lower costs, fewer headaches? Win, win, win!

3. Scaling sending capacity for seasonal or other peak demand. In many businesses, message volume can be very unpredictable and bursty. In others, there may be a seasonal peak demand much higher than other periods of sending. For example, a major product launch could spike email volume for a limited period. Or, a retailer might send 100x its usual volume during the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend. Scaling on-premises infrastructure to handle these peak loads is a waste of capital investment that would normally sit idle, but a hybrid architecture allows you to use the elasticity of the cloud to absorb these peak demands, whenever they might occur, while optimizing capital spend.

4. Mitigating risk while maximizing control and compliance. In many regards, a cloud infrastructure provides an inherent advantage for risk mitigation through the redundancy and disaster recovery benefits intrinsic to large-scale virtualization. A hybrid sending architecture builds on this by adding the possibility of switching sending from one environment to the other, should one fail for any reason. At the same time, while SparkPost adheres to stringent security best practices and offers a variety of mechanisms for ensuring the security and authenticity of data transmitted to the cloud, we know some customer systems require particular regulatory controls, need to live off the grid on a private network, or may require zero latency or other quality-of-service factors harder to control over a public network. In these cases, connecting an on-premises email infrastructure to the sensitive systems, while relaying message delivery though the cloud allows for optimum risk management and control.

5. Getting your feet wet and enabling incremental change. The final reason to consider a hybrid of on-premises and cloud email infrastructure is deceptively simple. Because SparkPost is built to scale from small message streams to the very highest volumes of traffic, it provides an ideal route for getting real-world experience with the performance of cloud-based email delivery, one message stream at a time. This incremental approach is a hidden benefit of the SparkPost service. A step-by-step migration to the cloud is the antithesis of wrenching “rip-and-replace” changes, and it provides a path for the gradual, well-managed sunsetting of on-premises infrastructure.

These are just five of the reasons for considering a hybrid cloud/on-premises email infrastructure, but they all share one trait: flexibility. Whether it’s adding cloud sending capacity, controlling capital costs, or boosting deliverability, a hybrid cloud enables as many deployment options as there are email programs.

That flexibility is one of the traits that makes SparkPost so compelling: our industry-leading deliverability, performance, and real-time reporting don’t come at an all-or-nothing price, and they don’t require the risks of rip-and-replace deployments. (And, by the way, configuring PowerMTA to relay to SparkPost is really easy.)