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By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2006-08-14 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


With the addition of discovery and compliance options, Mimosa Systems NearPoint 2.0 e-mail archive software is catching up capabilitywise with established rivals such as Symantecs Enterprise Vault.

NearPoint 2.0, which began shipping in August, is priced starting at $9,995 for 100 mailboxes. This price is higher than the base price of Enterprise Vault, but its reasonable given NearPoint 2.0s data-protection capabilities.

Click here to read a review of Symantec Enterprise Vault.

NearPoints key function is still log shipping, a capability that allows IT managers to quickly recover and repair Microsofts Exchange Server—but only Exchange Server—systems. In contrast, CAs Message Manager (acquired through CAs purchase of iLumin) and Enterprise Vault both work in mixed messaging environments, albeit to different degrees.

With log shipping, a technology first seen in Microsofts SQL Server, a replica of an Exchange Server database is stored on the server running NearPoint 2.0 and is kept up-do-date using transaction logs. If an Exchange Server database becomes corrupted, NearPoint 2.0 can roll back transactions to repair it.

Exchange Server 2007 is expected to include log shipping capabilities, although they were not available in the Beta 2 version eWeek Labs recently tested. IT managers anticipating an upgrade to Exchange Server 2007 should take this into account when evaluating NearPoint 2.0, but the latters archive capabilities will be valuable either way.

Click here to read a review of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Beta 2. In addition to its ability to repair and restore Exchange databases, NearPoint 2.0 can help slim down bulky Exchange Server systems. During tests, we could set up rules that determined when older messages and attachments should be sent from an Exchange Server database to the NearPoint archive.

Discovery and Compliance

NearPoints new eDiscovery option, which costs $2,000 for 100 mailboxes, allows authorized staff members to search through data residing on Exchange Server systems. eDiscovery will allow companies to respond quickly to legal discovery requests and keep track of their findings.

To get eDiscovery working, we first had to create a database for it on SQL Server 2005 and install Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0.

We found installation fairly easy, requiring just two basic steps: First, we had to install a server component to run in conjunction with our NearPoint server. Second, we installed a stand-alone client running on a Windows XP desktop system to create and sort our queries.

During tests, the eDiscovery option functioned quite well, although theres definitely room for improvement.

The eDiscovery interface has a straightforward layout, with a window for viewing search results and a preview pane for displaying findings. Using the interface, we could create custom tags to sort and label messages discovered during searches. For example, we created tags for "unreviewed," "false-positive" and "suspicious" messages.

However, the interface did not allow us to select and tag groups of messages—we had to click on each message individually, which made the selection process quite tedious.

It also would have been nice to be able to drag and drop messages among different groups, to accelerate the process of reviewing and flagging messages.

The new Compliance Storage Option, which costs $1,000 for 100 mailboxes, allows administrators to archive content from a NearPoint system to an EMC Centera CAS (content-addressed storage) system. Using the Compliance Storage Option, we were able to set retention periods for archived messages and choose specific e-mailboxes for compliance protection. Mimosa Systems officials said they plan to add support for other CAS devices in the future.

To read eWEEK Labs analysis of CAS, click here. The addition of discovery and compliance features has brought NearPoint closer in line with rivals, but, to really compete, it will have to add options for e-mail supervision, allowing administrators to monitor the messages of compliance-sensitive employees for inappropriate communications.

E-mail supervision is commonly used in financial institutions, but, with compliance burdens increasing all the time, it also has value for any publicly held company or heath care organization.

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