There are many reasons why you should protect Microsoft Exchange. In fact, one could probably devote an entire article to simply building the case for Exchange protection; but instead, let’s simply list a few “whys” and move on to “how”.
* It could be argued that no application details as much areas of a business as Exchange. From the delivery space to the administrator boardroom, nearly every job function has some level of dependency on e-mail. Hence, when the e-mail server is unavailable, the entire organization is impacted.
* With regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, along with those related to monetary and healthcare institutions, the retention of e-mail has become an responsibility that is ethical of’s career. Other laws, such as E-SIGN, bind electronic agreements with the same validity as penned contracts.
* And finally, although the above two examples are “internal”, most companies today rely on e-mail as part of doing business, externally. From distributing information between time zones, to coordinating a lunch location, e-mail is now often the most critical business communication for many organizations.
So, the question becomes “How can I effectively and affordably protect Exchange?” Before considering solutions, one should understand the difficulties first around protecting Microsoft Exchange.
* Exchange data is held in numerous directories with acutely large interdependent files. In even the most simple configurations, tens to hundreds of mailboxes can be stored in a single “information store” file.
* Exchange data are constantly in use and stay open by the application. Even when the files might be periodically closed, the use that is 24X7 of requires them to be accessible all the time.
* The above two facts combined need a “backup window” and specialized, and typically expensive, software (called backup agents) to check inside the file for old-fashioned back-up.
* And to make matters more complex, the existing versions of Microsoft Exchange (2000 and 2003) are dependent on Windows directory that is active. This necessitates other information that is email server hosting also be protected to be able to ensure the resilience of one’s e-mail system.
Collectively, it’s safe to state that Microsoft Exchange could very well be perhaps one of the most difficult applications to back up. For that reason, many IT administrators have started looking at different alternatives for Microsoft Exchange security and accessibility.
From a “protection” perspective, tape backup is assumed. But, as one measures the full time and effort needed to backup windows and restore tapes, our company is forced to concede that tape backup alone is insufficient–when you think about that tape backup occurs only nightly, which may bring about as much as an entire day of data loss should a failure occur. In the full case of e-mail, a lot of that data loss is unrecoverable. Then, during times during the crisis and restoration, recovery from tape is usually calculated in hours.
For many, it is assumed that the only other available technology is synchronous mirrored storage hardware. Instead of attempting to “backup” or protect the Exchange data from an application perspective (which forces all of the complexities that were mentioned earlier), some IT administrators simply protect the storage. By providing a second storage solution and allowing the storage fabric to maintain synchronization, the data can be protected.
The aspect that is positive of the storage (and not the application) is that the solution becomes application independent. By protecting the storage, we can protect every application with the functionality that is same rather than limit ourselves by “agents for Exchange” or any other application.
The negatives of synchronous storage space revolve mostly around cost (such as the price of the two storage space arrays) in addition to the fabric, controllers and synchronization software. Adding the price of a “storage space supervisor” or other individual with specialized storage space skills. As well as on top of that, for any amount of real distance, one must also add the price of bandwidth–which is considerable when pressing blocks around and being dependent on a fast acknowledgment due towards the nature of synchronous replication.
And so the most of us find ourselves stuck somewhere in between. We recognize that nightly tape backup just isn’t adequate for protecting one of our most critical applications, but we can’t manage synchronous hardware. Perhaps this is why a continually growing number of companies are deploying replication software that is host-based.
* In contrast to tape back-up, which occurs only nightly, host-based replication computer software transmits changes to all the Exchange files in real time. The prospective content is obviously just seconds behind.
* It offers comparable advantages to hardware that is synchronous that it is application independent.
Because it is a solution that is software-only one might say that replication software “protects like synchronous disk, with costs comparable to or less than tape”. There is probably a little literary license on both sides of that expression, but you get the idea.