I've picked Mimosa NearPoint as my first subject :-)
- Product: Mimosa NearPoint
- Category: Microsoft Exchange Archival, Microsoft Exchange Recovery, Microsoft Exchange Storage Management
- Architecture: Click here for vendor architecture diagram
- Corporate Issues: One of their investors seems to have gotten in some hot water ... interestingly since that story was written in Feb 2005, he has disappeared from the Board of Directors listed on their site.
Highlight 1 - Log Shipping
- product is built around concept of log shipping, whereby Exchange database transaction logfiles are bifurcated (i.e., take a copy) and the transaction logfile copies are used to maintain a copy of the production Exchange environment
- customers would need to initially "mirror" (used lightly) their production environment ... once they have a copy in place then the bifurcated transaction logfiles can be replayed against the copy of the production infrastructure
- having a copy of the production Exchange infrastructure provides interesting ability to go back in time, etc. and view historical "snapshots" (again, used lightly ... not to be confused with VSS snapshots, etc.) of a mailbox at any given time. Some of the features they include along these lines are:
- ... "show mailbox contents as of" feature allows "current", "two weeks ago", "six months ago", etc. with option to display deleted messages
- ... item- and mailbox- level recoverability for recovery or e-discovery purposes
- the amount of data that they will need to persist in medium to large environments would appear to be massive ... which is why I suspect they are targetting small and medium sized enterprises per their website ... I strongly suspect companies with (i) broadly distributed Exchange environment with slow links or (ii) large numbers of Exchange servers would run into some pretty significant limitations or blocking issues if they tried to use Mimosa with it's full complement of features. Not sure but that's my guess. Will be interesting to see where things go ...
- another disadvantage is that E12 (codename for next version of Exchange Server) has been reported to include "log shipping" technologies ... so assuming reports of mid-2006 ship dates are at least in the right ballpark (i.e., late 2006) that gives Mimosa just over a year to prove their technology and address the challenge of using a different log shipping mechanism in E12. Of course E12 log shipping won't be backward compatible so Mimosa is in the clear for Exchange 2000/2003. Then there's always Symantec's LiveState Recovery and other vendors in the Continuous Data Protection (CDP) market ... and many other CDP players (some working with Exchange, others not having announced any intentions) emerging (i.e., Revivio, TimeSpring, etc.)
Highlight 2 - Outlook Integration
- they have built the product to expose the archive as a "Mimosa Archive" folder in Outlook... basically they set the folder homepage of this folder to a user-level config screen from which an end user can search, browse or otherwise manage their archive.
- user-friendly and low learning curve
- offline becomes an issue (didn't check if they support offline archive use but suspect not) ...
- also in high availability scenarios, having high archive availability may be a challenge for Mimosa.
Highlight 3 - Security Model
- they have built the product with a flexible security model (as one would expect) that, as usual, provides for both operational and compliance archival (see the E-mail Compliance Checklist I wrote in April for SearchExchange.com ... here ... for what I mean: ). Some of the features they ship include:
- ... Self Service functionality enabling Auditor or Delegates to review archive contents within a pre-defined scope
- ... Ability to decide whether user deletions (i.e., in Outlook) are limited to Production Exchange Servers or are also reflected in the NearPoint archive ... this becomes importance for compliance reasons depending on your corporate retention policies
Other Miscellaneous Configuration & Comments
- Ability to archive attachments and replace them with a MimosaStub message in the original message (as one would expect ... basic archival feature)
- Ability to exclude mailboxes or utility mailboxes from archival ... good
- I liked one part of their Find dialog ... they let you: (i) choose addresses from GAL; (ii) senders to this mailbox; (iii) recipients of this mailbox; and (iv) contacts in this mailbox ... from an e-discovery perspective the last point (iv) is a nice innovation that I haven't seen elsewhere.
- Obviously as you'd expect they provide the ability to set different retention policies ...
- Pros: Overall I liked the combination of operational and compliance archivability, item-level recoverability and historical point-in-time e-discoverability that Mimosa NearPoint provides.
- Cons: The massive volumes involved seem to suggest limited value to medium-to-large customers as I discussed earlier. So scalability is my biggest concern.
The entire CDP space will be interesting to watch as they come up with new approaches to old Exchange management pains ...