Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Into the Email Backup Maze

Users have more choices than ever when it comes to backup software for Microsoft Exchange, but they're also confronting a series of claims that may be full of sophistry.

Among the companies peddling Exchange backup are Asempra, Atempo, Kashya, Mimosa, Revivio, and Timespring. At the same time, established players like EMC and Symantec offer backup solutions. Companies like Asigra and online service providers like Iron Mountain offer wares for large enterprises and service providers.

While there are differences in the size and scope of these products, many suppliers are making claims that sound alike. Most, for instance, offer some form of continuous data protection (CDP) for recovering email server setups after an outage. Most provide journaling, or the tracking of email records, that's additional to what Microsoft provides with its server software.

The uniformity of these claims is making it tough for suppliers to distinguish themselves, and most point to their product architectures for an added pitch. These arguments focus on whether a product works on the Exchange server or uses software agents to conduct backup and restoral.

First, let's take a look at the claims:

  • Mimosa and Revivio work on servers and appliances separate from the Exchange server itself. They say this keeps the data path clear of the traffic required to backup Exchange and restore the server if need be, and it keeps the Exchange server free of extra software. "People are so paranoid about having anything on the production server that they'll take three to six months of lab testing for a product that has agents," says Mike Ivanov, VP of product marketing at Mimosa.
  • Kashya offers an option that links its backup appliances to Cisco-based SAN switches, allowing CDP and data replication to take place on the SAN, not on any server. Brocade switch links are being added this year. (See Users Push for CDP Shapeshift .) Kashya claims this "intelligent fabric solution" provides large organizations with a more efficient way to set up and manage Exchange backups.
  • Asempra and Symantec require host agent software to reside on the Exchange server itself. Both firms claim this gives them a level of detailed information about Exchange that's just not available through other kinds of solutions. "As long as the application consumes very little, customers say fine," says Marty Ward, VP of marketing at Asempra. One to 5 percent CPU utilization is typical of Asempra solutions, he says.
  • Asigra claims no agent software at all. Indeed, president David Farajun says that by midyear a new CDP version of his company's backup Televaulting product will be available. It is presently in beta testing, he says. The software will restore Exchange to any point in time and will backup and restore simultaneously and offer automatic deletion of retained records at a customer-chosen time, he claims. A key attraction is the lack of agent software: "It's inevitable that any agent consumes more CPU and memory."
  • 1