I am using EC2 instances to host my site.
Previously, I have used the same server for everything (apache, mysql, email etc)... is this bad practice for a small traffic site? I am not sure how resource intensive email servers are.
So, is it better to set up a separate EC2 instance to handle email? Note that there is also an incurred cost with this.
On to the good stuff: I want to be able to send emails from my web applications (using zend framework), and also manage mailing lists.
Do people use third party services for mailing lists? How hard is it to set up / how much does it cost?
I have also heard about people integrating google apps into emailing systems... what exactly does this mean?
Google apps is a great way to get mail services--see http://google.com/a/ .
We use third party systems for mass emailing, mainly as we don't want to threaten our normal email system with being labeled as a spammer. I'm not sure what google's rules are.
Also, remember outgoing and incoming email need not live in the same place--you can use your server to send mails that can come back to google. Or whatever your MTA is.
Thank you very much, looks like an ideal solution.
I would be very hesitant before I started outsourcing your email through Google- it can be a very unnecessary expense. Plus, Google isn't going to like (or handle) mass mailing applications.
For regular email, I would keep that at your mail server. How many thousand emails/day do you expect to get (incoming)?
For bulk email, you can either use your existing domain name, or register YourDomain-Mailing.com, and use that strictly for bulk mailing applications. If you go that route, you can also easily use a VPS server (think $20-$30/month), and use that server strictly for your bulk emails.
Email servers are, for the most part, very low in resource usage. I would consider hosting the mass mailing server with an entirely different provider (think cheap), mainly to protect your main mail server from being associated with spam.
Google apps mail has a limit on how many it'll handle per day (think 500?)
As an alternative, this service is worth a look, comes from a company with a good pedigree: