Azaleos Gets Closer To NetApp For E-mail Services

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Azaleos is leveraging its close relationship with Network Appliance to expand its ability to offer managed e-mail services to solution providers.

A Redmond, Wash.-based maker of appliances to monitor, manage, and migrate Microsoft Exchange e-mails, Azaleos plans to introduce a new appliance this week for Exchange 2007, said CEO Phil Van Etten.

Azaleos makes the OneServer family of plug-and-play clustered appliances based on standard servers, usually IBM or Dell server blades, with the company's proprietary software, Van Etten said. The appliances allow failover of the Exchange server and let Azaleos remotely monitor them against up to 40,000 data points per second, including traffic patterns, storage use and other patterns that could impact availability. Options include disaster recovery and e-mail archiving.

"We look for patterns that alert possible problems and make sure Exchange stays up," Van Etten said. "And customers can see the reports, including who uses e-mail the most."

Azaleos sells its appliances through solution providers but does the implementation and the Exchange migration at the customer site by itself because it offers a 99.999-percent uptime guarantee, Van Etten said. "We want to make sure the Exchange environment is pristine and that there are no other applications running on it," he said.

The company bundles its Exchange appliances with a SAN, Van Etten said. About 70 percent of sales are bundled with a NetApp storage appliance, especially the company's entry-level StoreVault S500 appliance, introduced last May. Exchange 2007 requires 20 percent to 70 percent more storage than previous versions, he said.

"StoreVault is a good solution for small and midsize businesses," Van Etten said. "It has Snap Mirror and Snap Manager software [for taking and managing data snapshots] and plays well with Exchange."

Dave Brunke, executive director at XSM Systems, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based solution provider, started working with Azaleos three months ago. "Their solution is a natural fit with us, and the fit with NetApp is important to us," said Brunke, whose company offers professional services for e-mail and storage based on NetApp appliances and Symantec's Enterprise Vault software.

Azaleos helps XSM solve the most common problem its customers face: Not enough staff around to maintain product development while handling their applications, according to Brunke. "Exchange is one of the most common applications," he said. "Customers want to move away from managing e-mail and making it more of a utility. Now managing e-mails is basically grunt work."

Before working with Azaleos, XSM didn't offer a managed e-mail service because most customers prefer to keep their e-mail data at their site. "But the prospect of having their e-mail managed is attractive," he said. "With Azaleos, the fact that e-mail is sitting on their site and being managed is attractive to them."

By offering e-mail management as a service, XSM also helps customers solve other issues, Brunke added. For instance, the fact that Azaleos has aligned its business closely with that of NetApp means XSM can offer five nines of availability for NetApp customers, he said. "It's real easy to bring into an existing NetApp environment," he said.

A lot of customers are also looking to migrate to Exchange 2007 but have not yet done so. The Azaleos appliances make the migration transparent to customers, compared with traditional migration tools that can take one or two days, Brunke said.

Azaleos recently signed an agreement with NetApp to sell its appliances through the storage vendor's channel, Van Etten said. The company is also in exploratory talks with Tech Data about distributing the appliance to its solution providers. It currently uses Avnet and a couple of regional distributors for distribution, he said.

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