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Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced general availability of Exchange Server 2010 this week, and the messaging platform comes with new data storage and protection features.
E-mail archiving, e-discovery, regulatory compliance and security figure prominently in the new release, with features such as a Personal Archive, retention policies, legal hold, single-item restore, multi-mailbox search and access control.
Personal Archive is a special mailbox that appears alongside the primary mailbox folders in Outlook or Outlook Web App, so users have direct access to e-mail within the archive.
Exchange 2010 also offers new database availability, replication and failover capabilities for stronger disaster recovery, and storage I/O reductions and SATA and JBOD support reduce data storage costs.
Storage vendors such as EMC (NYSE: EMC), Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), Mimosa, Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC), NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP), Seagate/i365 (NASDAQ: STX), Azaleos and NeverFail have pledged support for Exchange 2010.
Despite the new storage capabilities, Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Brian Babineau said the new release still leaves plenty of room for storage vendors.
"We believe that the latest version of Exchange, including its archiving and retention capabilities, actually drives the need for purpose-built archive solutions," Babineau said. "It is readily apparent that Microsoft wants Exchange 2010 customers to manage everything storage, data protection, retention, discovery, etc. inside of Exchange. However, this can get very complicated when a company goes through a significant amount of discovery requests, has several large mailboxes, and a multitude of retention policies that must be enforced.
"What purpose-built archive solutions bring to the table is the ability to manage all of the tasks outside of the primary Exchange environment. Customers can store archived messages wherever they want, the data is single-instanced to reduce storage expenses, attorneys have one place to go to set legal holds and execute searches without impacting the primary messaging application, and retention policies can be set and enforced automatically or manually."
Third-party solutions also support other file types such as SharePoint, and most are well integrated with Microsoft products, he said.
Babineau noted that despite the addition of new storage features, Microsoft eliminated some storage efficiencies such as single instancing, and customers can't implement a tiered storage model with Exchange 2010 the primary mailbox and the Personal Archive mailbox must be stored on the same system, and employees must set retention policies themselves.
"It is very hard to ensure consistent records management in this fashion," he said.
"Our advice to customers is to really evaluate how much message management they want to do inside of Exchange 2010," Babineau said. "The other thing we will ask them is if they want to archive other content types in addition to e-mail. The answer to these questions should put a buyer on the right path as to whether they use native Exchange 2010 archiving and retention capabilities or use a purpose-built solution."
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