Exchange Issues Spawn Services

Users contemplating Exchange 2007 will have as much help as they can pay for

February 14, 2007

3 Min Read
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If you're among the many enterprises contemplating a move to Microsoft's Exchange 2007, you won't need to go far for advice and counsel. A range of suppliers and service providers see the issues involved in moving from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007 as a stepping-stone to near-term riches. (See Users Cautious on Microsoft Upgrades.)

Network Appliance, for example, is planning to goose its channel partners into doubling as providers of Exchange advice and even hosted services, through use of NetApp's StoreVault NAS gear and email appliances from vendor Azaleos.

At NetApp's North America Partner Summit in San Francisco last week, Sajai Krishnan, general manager of NetApp's StoreVault Business Unit, made reference to the possibility of bundling NetApp's NAS and Exchange management hardware for use by VARs. A NetApp spokesman later acknowledged that Krishnan's reference was to Azaleos, which has been packaging NetApp StoreVault S500s as part of a "complete Exchange solution."

While not acknowledging any formal arrangement with NetApp, Azaleos co-founder and CTO Keith McCall, who was formerly director and product unit manager for Microsoft Exchange Solutions, says about 70 percent of Azaleos' customers are using the company's products with NetApp's StoreVault NAS. Further, he says many are looking for help with a move to 2007.

"Our belief is that many customers are looking for other managed services companies to help them make the leap," McCall says.One of the biggest challenges facing upgraders is that Exchange 2007 only runs on 64-bit servers. That means they'll have to replace existing 32-bit servers with ones that cost twice as much.

McCall says it's not the hardware upgrade, which can help consolidation, but the sheer hassle of migration that's the sticking point for some customers. Getting outside help may be just the ticket for already overburdened IT staffers, he notes.

There is no information on when a formal NetApp/Azaleos bundle might be ready for market.

But others are eyeing the potential to help Exchange migrators. Among these is email archive vendor Fortiva. "The next wave of email will be hosted email systems," says CEO Eric Goodwin. (See Fortiva Names Goodwin CEO.) In line with this strategy, Fortiva's co-founder and former CEO, Paul Chen, has taken over the company's managed services division full time.

Another supplier, PostPath, offers an alternative to Exchange, pitching its performance as an improvement over Exchange 2007's database. (See Exchange Buster Grabs $15M.) Microsoft is still using the JET database, says Duncan Greatwood, CEO of PostPath. "You need 16 Gbytes of memory and it only works on 64-bit machines."While Microsoft acknowledges there's still a JET database in 2007, the company says it's improved database read operations with cache optimization, eliminated the streaming databases file, and increased the capacity of the enterprise edition.

Still, Greatwood claims a growing roster of customers stand willing to give up Exchange, if not Outlook. He says he's getting a slew of calls from would-be service providers looking for an alternative to use in hosting.

Of course, it's not clear that customers will necessarily save costs in moving to an email service, which can also be pricey. (See Email Gets More Outsourced Options.) And there may be additional problems in adopting a service. (See Managed Email: Who's Watching?.) Still, thanks to the opportunistic nature of the IT industry, it's likely that more options than ever will surface around Exchange management in the months ahead.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Azaleos Corp.

  • Fortiva Inc.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • PostPath

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