By Heidi Biggar
New software from Mimosa Systems promises to simplify the management of Microsoft Exchange servers by enabling users to address with a single tool a variety of data management issues common to MS Exchange.
Unlike alternative “point-product” approaches to e-mail management, Mimosa’s NearPoint for Microsoft Exchange Server tackles e-mail management issues such as recovery, archiving, policy compliance, and user access collectively, not individually, from a single management platform and with a single copy of data.
Doing so, Mimosa says, eliminates the need for users to implement multiple e-mail applications-either from the same or different vendors-to find and recover individual mailboxes, folders, etc., meet regulatory compliance requirements, expedite full database recoveries, and reduce overall storage requirements.
“Mimosa is the first small vendor that is addressing e-mail as a life-cycle-based challenge,” says Brad O’Neill, a senior analyst with the Taneja Group consulting firm. “Their architecture takes them into continuous data protection [CDP], disk archiving, and application-specific search.”
According to Mike Ivanov, vice president of product marketing at Mimosa, “We built a software tool from the ground up that addresses multiple e-mail data management issues. Our goal was to unify e-mail management.”
Taneja Group’s O’Neill says there are two ways to attack Exchange from a life-cycle perspective: You can either coordinate several broad-based, horizontal technologies or you can take an all-in-one approach. “Mimosa is the poster child for the latter approach,” he says.
Mimosa’s Ivanov says that even Veritas, which Mimosa claims is its closest competitor, requires users to maintain separate backup applications (e.g., NetBackup and Backup Exec) and e-mail archiving products (e.g., Enterprise Vault). Other competitors include vendors such as CommVault and EMC.
NearPoint for Exchange Server doesn’t require any agents to be installed on the Exchange servers, and it does not affect the Exchange server environment once the database, using built-in or third-party replication technology, is copied to the NearPoint server.
The NearPoint software runs on a Windows server and uses “bulk archive storage” (e.g., SATA RAID) for storage. After the software makes an initial full copy of the Exchange database(s)-a process Mimosa says generally takes about a weekend to complete-it continuously scans the Exchange transaction logs for changes and then copies the associated file logs to the NearPoint server, where they are immediately applied to the full copy of the database for recovery purposes (see figure).
NearPoint software continuously scans Exchange transaction logs for changes and copies the associated file logs to the NearPoint server, where they are applied to the full copy of the database for disaster recovery.
“The software constantly keeps an up-to-date copy of the Exchange database within one transaction log,” says Ivanov, “so if you ever have to do a database-level recovery, you literally ‘right click’ on the database and hit restore, and the recovery is as fast as the disk enables.”
Mimosa claims restores from the NearPoint server take place in a matter of minutes, compared to hours or days for more-traditional approaches.
CDP technology, says Taneja’s O’Neill, enables this type of “advanced application recovery.” Although Mimosa currently leverages its own CDP capability (called “continuous application shadowing”), theoretically the company could use CDP technology from a variety of vendors, including Mendocino, Revivio, and even Microsoft if it develops a CDP engine, says O’Neill.
Mimosa’s software also indexes the contents of the database (e.g., mailboxes, folders, contacts, tasks, calendars, etc.) and then uses the index, through a process called “global single-instancing,” to ensure that only one copy of each message, attachment, etc., is stored on the disk archive. The software can be used with multiple message stores, databases, and Exchange servers.
The advantage of this type of process, according to Mimosa’s Ivanov, is that it eliminates the need for users to have to go back and do a “brick-level” backup to ensure individual files, mailboxes, etc., can be recovered quickly.
Users can search and access their own files using a “folder home page” within Microsoft Outlook. The main searching mechanism is a “Google-type search,” although users can also select a “browse view,” which provides a hierarchy of e-mails stored on the Mimosa server. The browse view allows users to roll back to get a view of their mailbox contents days or months prior.
The software also allows users to use the information in the data repository to set retention and access policies for various users and types of data.
Mimosa sells through the channel. The software is priced from $10,000 (for about 100 mailboxes); a 2,000-mailbox environment will cost about $35 per mailbox, according to the company.