Protecting MS Exchange Data: Three New Products For The Channel

Solutions including software from CommVault Systems and FalconStor Software and a new service from on-line backup and recovery service provider LiveVault are entering a crowded market. But channel sources said customers do not always take advantage of such third-party options, even though backing up Exchange e-mail can be a daunting task.

The biggest problem with Exchange comes from sending out multiple e-mails with the same attachment because each attachment is stored separately, said Jeff Manuszak, storage architect at Chi, a Warrensville Heights, Ohio-based solution provider.

Backing up the Exchange information store is also a challenge. Solution providers said the entire store can be backed up while servers are on-line, but this could take hours, depending on how large it is. In such a case, restoring a single e-mail requires the restoration of the entire information store.

Microsoft allows Exchange files to be broken off as a mirror to another server for backing up, but that may not catch all the information in the cache, and requires extra server and storage resources to do.

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Solution providers also said the information store can be broken up to multiple independent servers, but then each store must be managed independently.

There are a variety of third party applications for backing up and restoring Exchange data, including applications which strip the attachments from the e-mail and store them separately. In such cases, multiple copies of the same attachment are replaced by a single copy that is linked to the appropriate e-mails.

Still, such opportunities are often ignored because the person managing Exchange at the customer site is typically a Microsoft-trained engineer with no interest in third-party applications, said Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based solution provider.

"As a result, they are Microsoft-oriented. . . . They are very homogeneous in their thinking, if Microsoft has a tool, they will use it," Teter said. "For archiving e-mails, they don't want to mess with Microsoft Exchange. The first thing they do in case of a problem is call Microsoft, so they prefer Microsoft products."

On Monday, LiveVault, Marlborough, Mass.-based, introduced version 4 of its LiveVault Online Backup and Recovery Service. Among the features of the service is the ability to automatically detect, create, and maintain policies to protect Exchange data, said Scott Jarr, director of product management for the company.

As changes are made to the Exchange information store, LiveVault automatically recognizes those changes and then protects them so the information can be recovered, said Jarr. The data is continuously replicated to an Iron Mountain data center for disaster recovery purposes, he said.

The new service is aimed at simplifying the protection of Exchange data, Jarr said. "We take out complexity," he said. "Microsoft's documentation for protecting Exchange is a 200-plus-page document. We simplified it to a mouse click."

The service now supports Windows 2003 and Exchange 2003," he said.

LiveVault works exclusively with the small and midsize business channel, said Daniel Stevenson, director of channel marketing for the company. The main focus is on ISVs who offer core applications to companies in the financial and law areas, among others. The company also works with solution providers who offer services as part of their product line, Stevenson said.

The company's focus on the channel makes it unique, said Stevenson. "We let partners offer the service at a low price," he said. "We implement the service. For partners, that means a recurring revenue stream. It's an extension of the managed service they offer their customers today."

CommVault Systems, an Oceanport, N.J.-based storage management software vendor, used Monday to introduce QiNetix DataArchiver. DataArchiver provides secure Exchange data stores for long-term retention and accessibility of e-mails, said Chris VanWagoner, director of product marketing for CommVault.

The application also provides management of multiple copies of e-mails and retention schedules for individual e-mails, as well as the ability for authorized users to search and access archival data for compliance or discovery purposes, he said.

Last Friday, Melville, N.Y.-based FalconStor introduced new snapshot capabilities to its IPStor software suite which allows the backing up and restoring of individual messages or entire mailboxes under Exchange Server 2003, company officials said.

IPStor uses such Windows Server 2003 storage management capabilities as Volume Shadow Copy Service to work with Exchange files. The application also allows block-level and file-level replication, multi-pathing over Fibre Channel and iSCSI, and system restore from serious hardware failure for Exchange, the officials said.

These vendors join a number of others who have added specific features or modules in the past year to their applications for dealing with Exchange e-mails, including Veritas Software's NetBackup and Backup Exec, Computer Associates International's Enterprise Backup and ArcServe, and BakBone Software's NetVault.