Email Archiving Appliance
This is a complete resource to understand and make an informed decision when researching an email archiving appliance.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
A more powerful appliance will ensure that you can:
Capture all emails
Import user PST files
Import existing emails
Embrace future growth
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.
Since email archiving appliances are used for long term email storage, you need to give special attention to disk capacity.
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
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.
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.
Ask them which RAID type is used in the appliance. Some key benefits of using RAID 5 disk configuration:
Peace of mind
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.
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.
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.
Some of the benefits of scalable solutions are:
Increased capacity and power
Accommodates future growth
It doesn’t matter how much you over estimate, you will eventually run out of storage space.
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.
The email archiving appliance market has matured significantly over the years and similar sized appliances are priced comparably.
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.
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:
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?