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How to patch Interspire Email Marketer to work with SparkPost

April 29, 2017 Contributor

We had several customers using Interspire Email Marketer reporting an issue blocking them from using SparkPost to send email via SMTP. This article will address:

NOTE: If you are interested in using something similar to Interspire but has a fully supported integration with SparkPost, we recommend you take a look at MailWizz. Additionally, the information below is for Interspire version 6.15, it has not been tested on any other version. Please be sure to keep backup copies of any modified files in case you run into issues.

# What issue was experienced?

More than a handful of customers were reporting that during setup of SMTP server in Interspire to use Sparkpost SMTP servers they were receiving a “Relaying Denied” or other similar SMTP setup error messages while trying to do something as simple as send a test email using Interspire.

Our support team ran the gamut with our customers (thank you for being so very patient) trying to resolve this error. In each case, the customers had followed all the proper steps and configured everything as expected, but were still unable to get things to work:

  1. Each customer had a new account
  2. In each case, the customer had created a Sending Domain in Sparkpost properly
  3. All of their DNS records were configured properly by setting up DKIM to verify their sending domain for use with Sparkpost
  4. We tested they had created a valid Sparkpost API Key with the Send via SMTP permission enabled
  5. We worked with each customer ensuring they had set up SMTP for use Sparkpost Email Service

Interspire is PHP software running on customer-deployed LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stacks, and after several failed attempts to get in contact with Interspire to debug the issue, we decided the best course of action was to purchase a license and find out for ourselves.

# Test-Harness Environment Configuration

First I needed somewhere to install my instance, so I whipped up a new EC2 LAMP Stack, here’s a handy little article I found to get me started: But that wasn’t quite enough since Sparkpost uses the improved and recommended security of TLS (Transport Layer Security) for sending email via SMTP we needed to make sure that PHP was compiled with openssl support by making sure that mod_ssl was enabled in the php.ini.

So my technology stack looked like:

Next I configured the firewall (IPTABLES) to support SCP, SSH, port 587 for TLS via Sparkpost and all the other normal ports needed. Then, I followed the instructions for installation of Interspire as provided by their proprietary system. And logged into my instance of Interspire.

The error reported by our customers consistently from the PHP logs was:

So I thought “Alright, let’s begin by seeing if we can connect via the command line and send an email…that’s probably a good place to start. So I used openssl s_client having it enable the secure socket via STARTTLS for me…

So now that I’ve finished a cursory test that I’m able to send email from this machine using TLS, it is time to try it with Interspire.

# Root cause of the issue

After following Interspire’s documentation on configuring an external SMTP service, I tried to test…but I received the same error message as our customers. Good, now we can get down to the issue.

Before going further, I turned on some custom Apache, PHP, and MySQL log filing (just so I could easily locate debugging data).

Then after much hunting and some back and forth between Interspire’s support team and myself, I was able to isolate that the right place to fix this issue was in the core Interspire email.php file. Great…just what I don’t want, to have to touch the core engine code of a production system, but oh well…that’s the gig. </div>
                        <div class='article-footer'><span>Article ID: 893</span>, <span itemprop='datePublished'>Created: September 8, 2017 at 4:43 PM</span>, <span itemprop='dateModified'>Modified: September 8, 2017 at 4:43 PM</span></div>
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