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Storage apps keep Exchange running 24/7

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Exchange e-mail appliances
E-mail appliances, which are managed by outside companies, are the latest high-availability Exchange options. The appliances monitor Exchange and capture data going into the data store. "It seemed like voodoo at first," says Strome Investment Management's Cumming, referring to the Teneros-managed appliance his company deployed. He plugged in the box, gave it an IP address and it synchronized itself with Exchange.

"We didn't need to provide any hardware or baby-sit it," reports Cumming. Failover and switchback are automatic. Strome Investment Management uses 70 mailboxes. Teneros charges $15,000 for a 250-user appliance and $25,000 for a 500-user appliance. The annual maintenance fee ranges from $3,000 to $6,000, depending on the capacity of the appliance.

Whereas Teneros focuses on the small business market (up to 500 mailboxes), Azaleos is geared to larger organizations. Like Teneros, Azaleos installs what it describes as a clustered appliance containing redundant servers and storage inside the user's data center. The Azaleos product scales to 2,500 users.

"We look at Azaleos as a way to outsource e-mail availability while keeping our data within our grasp," says Lee Hudson, director of IT at Zumiez Inc., a fashion retailer in Everett, WA. The appliance itself contains an active/passive Exchange cluster and a third server that handles Active Directory. Azaleos costs approximately $30,000 per appliance and $15,000 for

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onsite storage. Monitoring services are $7 per month per user, plus $4 per month per user for offsite disaster recovery. The total cost for 1,000 users comes to about $200,000, half of which is for services.

Regardless of what approach you take to high-availability e-mail, you will lose e-mail service eventually. But being able to restore e-mail service within an hour or less is, as the credit card ad says, priceless.

This was first published in September 2006

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