Configuring a Private SMTP Server in Oracle Analytics Cloud using OCI Load Balancers

February 21, 2024 | 4 minute read
Ravi Bhuma
Principal Solutions Architect, Oracle Analytics
Srinivasa Pula
Consulting Member of Technical Staff
Ahmed Awan
Director, Customer Excellence, Analytics
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Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC) is a comprehensive analytics platform, empowering organizations to probe any data, anywhere, on any device. From OAC, you can connect to your organization’s mail server so that analysts can email their reports and data visualizations directly from Oracle Analytics. 

In many organizations, strict policies and compliance requirements dictate the use of private Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) servers to have greater control over their email communications, security, and regulatory requirements, or when the volume of email communication is such that a private server becomes a more practical and cost-effective solution.

When faced with this requirement, connecting your private SMTP servers to OAC assists in meeting your organization's needs.

This blog describes leveraging private SMTP servers within OAC while harnessing the power of OCI load balancers. Specifically, it explores how to configure private SMTP servers seamlessly within the Oracle Analytics Cloud environment, utilizing public OCI load balancers to bridge the gap between private networks and the internet. This integration not only enhances email communication strategies but also fortifies operational integrity, compliance postures, and overall technology resilience.

Assumptions

  1. All names and addresses used in this blog are for examples only.
  2. OAC is configured with a private endpoint and is up and running.
  3. Your private SMTP Server is installed and configured to allow traffic from OAC.
  4. Private and public load balancers are configured, and their health status is OK.
  5. Routing tables and security list rules are updated correctly. You can use the Network Path Analyzer to check for any misconfiguration.

For more details refer to this blog.

Important Note About Private Access Channels

Private access channels enable you to connect to private data source hosts. You can't use a private access channel to access any other type of private host.  For example, you can't use private access channels to access private hosts that represent FTP servers, SMTP servers, printers, or any other type of private host you might use.

Refer to the documentation here.

Solution Architecture

oac-smtp

Due to the lack of direct connectivity between private/public OAC instances and your private SMTP server installed on-premises, an OCI public load balancer is utilized as an intermediary to facilitate traffic flow. You can also set up the private load balancer to only receive traffic from the public load balancer, and similarly, configure the public load balancer to only receive traffic from the OAC instance.


Traffic flow

OAC2SMTP

Set Up Your Private SMTP Server as the Email Server to Deliver Reports

  1. In the Oracle Analytics home page, click the Navigator, and then click Console.
  2. Click Mail Settings.
  3. In the mail settings, for SMTP Server enter the name of the public load balancer or the IP address of the public load balancer.
  4. Enter the Port number.
    Common SMTP ports include:
        • 25 (Connection Security = None)
        • 465 (Connection Security = SSL/TLS)
        • 587 (Connection Security = STARTTLS)
  5. Enter the name and email address that you want to see in the “From” field of emails delivering reports (Display the name of the sender and E-mail address of the sender).
  6. Click Test to verify the connection.

               Refer here for Mail Settings documentation.

Backend Sets for Load Balancers

  1. Configure the public load balancer backend set as a private load balancer.
  2. Configure the private load balancer backend set as a private SMTP server.
    The load balancer routes incoming traffic to these backend servers based on the policies you specified for the backend set

           Refer here for load balancer documentation.

The Results: Successful Email Delivery 

  1. Users dispatch email reports directly from the OAC catalog to single or multiple recipients.
  2. The request is received by the public load balancer, which then forwards the traffic to its backend, a private load balancer.
  3. Subsequently, the private load balancer routes the request to its backend, a private SMTP server, and the SMTP server delivers the emailed report appropriately.

Conclusion

This blog post describes how to integrate private SMTP servers with OAC through OCI load balancers, specifically targeting organizations with strict policies on email communications. It outlines a comprehensive solution for leveraging private SMTP servers within OAC, utilizing OCI's public load balancers to facilitate communication between OAC and the private SMTP servers located within private networks. For more information, please check the Oracle Help Center or ask questions in the Oracle Analytics Community.

Ravi Bhuma

Principal Solutions Architect, Oracle Analytics

Oracle Analytics Service Excellence, CEAL Team

Srinivasa Pula

Consulting Member of Technical Staff

Oracle Analytics Service Excellence, CEAL Team

Ahmed Awan

Director, Customer Excellence, Analytics


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