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Appliance Advantages

The main benefits of an appliance based solution, is that it is easy to deploy. Once you receive the appliance, all you have to do is put it on the server rack and turn it on.

What is an appliance solution?

An appliance is a complete, application-specific network server with web-interface and plug-ins.

More and more software companies are delivering their solutions by integrating them into a standard hardware box, as a closed, all-in-one product.

How do they work?

They are pre-configured to do one task. When you turn them on for the first time, they only require basic information like date, time, company name, domain, network information and a few other data points to get them functional. The services they provide are instantly available to be used from the start. You don’t have to install or configure anything.

Benefits of an Appliance

An appliance provides you with several advantages

  • All software and hardware in a single solution

  • No individual component obsolescence

  • Ready to use – Plug and Play

  • Purpose built efficiency

  • Simple to use — web-based interface

  • Built-in web services and management applications

  • Secure, controlled access

  • Unlimited License – no “per user” fee

  • No software to install on your mail server

  • Tamper proof and hardened O/S

Technical Details

An underpowered email archiving appliance will be a drain on your time and will not meet the requirements of your organization. Carefully review and understand these technical details and how they relate to your environment. They can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

#1 – Processing Power and Memory

You need a solution which can handle three to four times your current processing load. The specifications you need to see are number of CPUs and size of memory.

Why you need MORE horsepower in your email archiving appliance?

A more powerful appliance will ensure that you can:

  • Capture all emails

  • Import user PST files

  • Import existing emails

  • Embrace future growth

Hint 1 of 4

To figure out if the appliance has the required processing power, ask for benchmarking numbers. This will give you a better understanding of how the solution will perform during data surges and how it will behave in the coming years.

Question?

If you have one million emails that you need to load into your new email archiving appliance, how long would it take?

  • A Powerful Email Archiving Appliance system can load 100,000 emails per day and will complete the task in 10 days.
  • A Less Powerful Email Archiving Appliance system can load 30,000 emails per day and will require 3 time as many days to complete the same task, 34 days!

#2 – Storage Capacity

Since email archiving appliances are used for long term email storage, you need to give special attention to disk capacity.

You need an email archiving appliance which has a good storage saving ratio.

Ask them which technology they use to store the archived data. Some companies are very open to discussing their technology. The technologies used to save the data to the archive appliance are:

  • Deduplicate all emails

  • Compress all data

  • Deduplicate all attachments

  • Single-instance storage

Hint 2 of 4

Ask for storage saving ratios for the appliance solution. The archiving solution usually employs deduplication and compression technology to reduce the storage footprint. The deduplication ratio can be as high as 70%. That means 1TB of data will reduce down to 300GB of disk storage! This is a huge cost savings of mail server disk space (which usually comes at a premium price) and a fundamental benefit of any archiving solution.

How different storage ratios can save different amounts of disk?

In the above graph you see that as the deduplication ratio gets better, the storage requirement for the same amount of data decreases.  At a 45% deduplication ratio there is a savings of 460GB.  It is difficult to estimate how much a particular company will save from deduplication, but a good rule of thumb is to use 30% when calculating storage requirements.

#3 – RAID — Redundant Array of Independent (Inexpensive) Disk

The next important point to note about the product is the RAID type for the appliance. At minimum, you need a solution which has RAID5. This gives you a good layer of protection if a drive fails.

You need an email archiving appliance which utilizes a minimum RAID 5.

Ask them which RAID type is used in the appliance. Some key benefits of using RAID 5 disk configuration:

  • Superior performance

  • Lower cost

  • Improved resiliency

  • Peace of mind

Hint 3 of 4

Make sure the vendor is telling you the usable disk size. The raw disk size is good to know but should not be used to compare the appliances.

RAID 5 – Raw versus Usable disk

An appliance which is using three (3) disks 500 GB capacity will have 1500 GB “raw disk size” but the usable disk would be around 900 GB.

 

 

Calculation

  • Raw size: 500 GB x 3 = 1500 GB
  • Usable disk (more accurate) :
    1. 500 GB x 3 – 500 GB(RAID disk) = 1000 GB
    2. 1000 GB – 150 GB (15% disk for the file system) = 850 GB

#4 – Scalability

How do you quantify the future storage needs of your organization? You can under estimate or over estimate. Ask any IT professional and they would rather over estimate then under. Why? It is preferable to have unused storage space down the road than to run out of storage space.

You need an email archiving appliance which can scale according to your needs.

Some of the benefits of scalable solutions are:

  • Increased capacity and power

  • Fault tolerance

  • Flexible deployment

  • Accommodates future growth

Hint 4 of 4

It doesn’t matter how much you over estimate, you will eventually run out of storage space.

Horizontal Scaling

In horizontal scaling, multiple machines are joined together to make a larger solution. You should be able to cluster the archiving appliance together to make a bigger solution.

The benefit is that you get more storage and processing power. Technically, you get the most solution at the most effective long run cost. You don’t have to migrate the data from a smaller machine to a larger machine every few years.

Another benefit is that you can be conservative initially when implementing the solution. In few months you may have a better idea of the needs of your organization and can add machines as needed.

Tiered Storage

One question that arises from this sort of implementation is “why not move the older data to a cheaper storage and keep the new data on near line storage?” Earlier solutions implemented this idea to extend the storage capacity of the archiving appliance. The data retrieval became slow as the data grew over time. In the end, there was not enough horsepower to work with all the archived data.

Pricing and Licensing

When you start researching email archiving appliances, you will find all sorts of solutions. After comparing the hardware, overall usability and functionality of the solution, it will come down to price.

Cost factors for an email archiving appliance include:

  • Price of the Appliance
  • Hardware warranty
  • Support and updates
  • Appliance Refresh

Price of the Email Archiving Appliance

The email archiving appliance market has matured significantly over the years and similar sized appliances are priced comparably.

Warranties and Support

This is where you need to pay special attention. You will find simple maintenance models where everything is covered under one price. And al-la-carte prices, where you pay for each one.

Simple Model

  • All inclusive simplicity
  • Includes Hardware warranty, software upgrades and support
  • Piece of mind
  • Generally 20-22% of MSRP

A-la-carte Model

  • Separate cost for hardware warranty, software upgrades and support
  • You must keep track of different warranty and support dates
  • Costly and inefficient
  • Generally 42% of MSRP

Hardware Warranty

The full hardware replacement warranty and the field replaceable parts warranty are the two types of warranties offered. Full hardware replacement warranty comes from the era of routers and network servers when new hardware was dispatched due to any failure. However, the nature of email archiving appliance data warrants a paradigm shift in hardware warranty because you need to be up and running fast. Below let’s compare the two types:

On-site Component Level Repair

  • Next business day, on-site certified technician
  • No need to re-configuration and setup the appliance
  • No need to restore any data
  • Completely hassle free

Next day Replacement

  • Data from the archive needs to be restored from backup
  • The appliance needs to be re-configured and setup
  • The failed appliance must be returned to the vendor
  • You spend more time

What is this ruckus about server refresh?

Server refresh is another option which is being offered. Basically, you pay a certain amount every year and at the end of a few years, the vendor will send you a new appliance. Sounds wonderful? Let’s analyze a couple of points below that you may not have considered:

It’s NOT free as advertised.  You are paying for it in installments at a higher warranty cost, without even knowing it.  If you don’t like the service or the product down the road, they already have your money, even if you move to a different company’s solution.  Why let them hold your money hostage?

When you actually get a replacement, it’s at the same disk capacity that you started with.   The nature of email archiving is that even with the same retention policy, the shear amount of emails tends to grow every year.  So why commit yourself to paying in advance for the same sized appliance, when you likely will need a larger capacity appliance?