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LiveOffice provides email service without costly data archiving

Companies can sign on for a free seven-day buffer of email from LiveOffice's cloud service to protect them from an email server outage, rather than pay for full-blown data archiving.

Email archiving and security Software as a Service (SaaS) vendor LiveOffice LLC today launched the LiveOffice Mail Continuity Service, a free service designed to give small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) high availability for Exchange servers without having to send all their email data to the cloud.

"At small companies, the email server is often a single point of failure," said LiveOffice CEO Nick Mehta. "If it goes down, employees will usually use their personal email to conduct business while the server is being restored. This can present some security and compliance risks."

However, many SMBs either don't want to pay for a full-fledged email archiving service or feel comfortable sending all email data to the cloud. Mail Continuity is LiveOffice's attempt to offer a "spare tire" for the Exchange server.

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To set it up, customers would configure their internal email system to journal to LiveOffice's cloud, and configure the DNS server to rout messages through LiveOffice. LiveOffice will keep a seven-day buffer of all incoming and outgoing email messages and allow employees access to their live email while service is restored to the production server. Once restoration occurs, changes made to data during the outage are synced back to the production server.

LiveOffice can offer this service for free because of economies of scale in its data center, as well as LiveOffice's use of relatively inexpensive commodity storage and server hardware, Mehta said.

Analysts pointed out it's also an attempt to generate business in a crowded email SaaS market by getting people comfortable using LiveOffice before trying to sell them a full-fledged email archiving or hosting service. "This is clearly supposed to be disruptive as they try to compete in a very competitive space," said analyst Jo Maitland, Forrester Research. "It's a way for customers to feel out what it's like to be in the cloud without moving there completely."

"The challenge for LiveOffice will be to make this known to people and to provision servers very quickly," said analyst Brian Babineau, Enterprise Strategy Group.

A December 2007 survey of 156 email managers by ESG indicated that 35% of organizations conduct only daily full backups on their Exchange servers, Babineau said. "They're willing to lose a day's worth of email," which also indicates that not everyone has a disaster recovery plan in place for this mission-critical application. "If you don't have a disaster recovery plan for email and you want to get something in place, this is an easy way to do it," he said.

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