This is the fifteenth post in the 2016 FastMail Advent Calendar. Stay tuned for another post tomorrow.
When I started at FastMail.FM (as we were called), we owned the domain fastmail.fm as well as a ton of specific country domains and other exciting email sounding names.
We purchased fastmail.net in 2005.
I didn't expect we'd ever manage to buy it, but we purchased fastmail.com in 2014.
Buying the fastmail.net and fastmail.com domains was just a matter of negotiating with the right people, because they were being held without any actual users on them.
Created about the same time as our FastMail, fastmail.ca was a proudly Canadian service built to compete with the sluggish web email services of the day. They also owned the third of the big three suffixes, fastmail.org.
While we were part of Opera, there had been some negotiations to purchase the business from the owner of fastmail.ca, Michael Richards, but for various reasons they were not concluded.
A failed server
In September 2016, a server failure on the system running fastmail.ca meant that the service was offline. Some users managed to contact the fastmail.com support team looking for information, and the support tickets were assigned to me as the on-call engineer.
I looked in the whois information for the domain and reached out to Michael to see if there was anything we could do to help. It turns out he was ready to exit the email business and I convinced him that we would be the right custodians for his service. We agreed on a price, and started planning the migration.
Migrating existing users
Over the weeks following the disk failure, we worked with Michael to ensure a seamless transition of addressbook information and email for each fastmail.ca user who elected to move to our service. Once we were happy that the transfer process was solid, we set up a landing page for users coming in via the fastmail.ca domain, and Michael set up a migration page where users could opt to migrate.
"Remote access modules developed and supported by the FastMail.fm organization have been supported and contributed to the programming community for many years and these made the migration process far simpler." — Michael Richards
FastMail's email flow is designed to allow users at a domain to migrate in slowly, both to support business migrating their email service from another provider, and to support instances like this where we have purchased a domain name with existing users. All domains in our system start off configured with external routing, and only after DNS is pointing to our MX servers will they switch to internal routing.
This means that emails sent from our interface to addresses @fastmail.ca continued to be placed in our regular outbound queue and then passed on to the existing fastmail.ca MX servers for redirection to the correct location for that user. It's the same reason that a user adding
gmail.com to their domain list doesn't suddenly intercept a ton of email destined for others (though we have a blacklist of the most common usual suspects as well).
Thanks for your trust, and welcome fastmail.ca users!
We really appreciate the trust shown by Michael in transferring his service to us. We know how much it means after building up a service for years to entrust your users' confidence to another party.
Welcome fastmail.ca users to FastMail Pty Ltd's service. We are not based in Canada, but we're another Commonwealth country, so that counts for something, eh. We share the same values and commitment to providing a great service for our users.