Perhaps you’ve heard the tale of a professor who was lecturing about astronomy and the nature of the universe. While describing how the Earth is a sphere that revolves around the sun, a student interjected, “That’s ridiculous. Everyone knows the earth is a flat plate that sits on the back of a tortoise.” The lecturer asked, “Oh, really? And what is that tortoise standing on?” The student smiled and replied, “It’s turtles all the way down!” (See also: xkcd 1416, “Pixels.”)

Now, look at the technology that supports how we develop and consume nearly every sort of information today. It’s the cloud. The app on your phone? Chances are the bulk of the code and data that supports it live in the cloud, not on your device. The systems your company uses to share information and manage business processes? Probably in the cloud. This very blog post? Yes, it was written using one cloud service and published using another.

So it’s clear why service providers are the backbone of today’s cloud economy. You might even say that it’s services all the way down.

It’s Services All the Way Down

Perhaps that sounds glib, but I mean it quite literally—building a service or app that itself leverages other cloud services is what distinguishes the fastest growing businesses from operations that happen to run their systems in a data center somewhere. Building a true cloud business means leveraging the flexibility, performance, and efficiency that cloud infrastructure provides.

Consider our own business, SparkPost, as an example. We’re a cloud service for email delivery and analytics. In turn, we’ve built our technology on the shoulders of many other pieces of cloud infrastructure, notably Amazon Web Services (AWS), but many other infrastructure and business services as well. That strategic decision has given us a tremendous leg up in terms of scalability, reliability, and costs that allow us to do things our competitors who rely on older data center architectures simply cannot.

Email Is Important to Service Providers. But In-House Email Infrastructure Isn’t

These same economics apply to service providers who build value for their customers on top of core infrastructure like email. Shifting email delivery from in-house infrastructure to the cloud offers compelling benefits to ESPs and other service providers.

To be sure, email is integral to the value service providers deliver. It’s what drives customer engagement and growth, and it’s key to functional capabilities like notifications and workflow. But retaining internal responsibility for email infrastructure and delivery offers service providers little strategic advantage. Instead, operating end-to-end email delivery remains a resource-intensive function, with demanding human and infrastructural costs.

In fact, research from email marketing industry analysts The Relevancy Group shows sending email from on-premises infrastructure costs service providers 25% more than cloud email delivery. In absolute terms, they find that cloud email delivery will save a service provider $100,000 annually for every 1 billion messages sent. That’s meaningful savings. But even better, their research shows that service providers and their customers together realize $3 million in upside annually for every billion messages moved to the cloud, thanks to improved deliverability and performance.

SparkPost Is a Service Provider’s Best Friend

Helping service providers realize benefits like these is why we built SparkPost for Service Providers, a solution specifically designed to meet the demanding requirements of this market. Leading service providers already are achieving growth and strategic benefit from the cloud and SparkPost’s email delivery service. And they’re delivering more for their customers.

We’re pretty proud of our technology, but there’s another reason we’re really excited by the work we do with our service provider customers. Email delivery is what we do. We’re pretty nerdy about it, but happy to say that loud and proud. And we have zero interest in trying to build half-baked marketing applications in the hope of competing with our friends.

I’m impressed by the ways our service provider customers have built on email to do some pretty amazing things for their own customers. They do things for marketers and other professionals that demonstrate precisely why the cloud economy is growing so quickly and with such agility. I can’t wait to see what other service providers will do as well.

Are you a new (or evolving) service provider? I’d love to hear how you think about cloud infrastructure and the role of email in your business. Send me a note or leave a comment below!


P.S. Want to learn more about why moving email delivery to the cloud is such a big win for service providers? You can download a copy of the Relevancy Group’s research, “The Value of Cloud Email Delivery for Service Providers” for free. And if you’re a cloud service provider who relies on email, you definitely should learn more about our SparkPost for Service Providers solution.