By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2004-03-29 Print this article Print

Companies with beleaguered e-mail servers will find that Accellion Inc.s interesting attachment caching appliance, Accellion Attachments 3.5, eases the burden. By stripping attachments out of e-mail and storing them on cache appliances, Accellion Attachments 3.5 can optimize transmission of attachments within an enterprise and among business partners.

eWEEK Labs tests showed that Accellion Attachments 3.5, which shipped last month, would be an excellent choice for companies with multiple sites that must transfer large files from site to site.

Larger enterprises can use multiple Accellion Attachments appliances (one at each geographic site) and leverage the built-in replication tools to ease the burden on the WAN. The relatively low cost of Accellion Attachments 3.5—the appliance starts at $8,000, and agents are priced at $30 to $50 each, depending on volume—will ease large deployments.

IT managers at smaller, more centralized companies can benefit from offloading attachments from high-traffic e-mail servers. (IBMs Lotus Domino and Microsoft Corp.s Exchange are supported.)

Accellion Attachments 3.5 was fairly easy to implement, and its attachment management capabilities were quite useful. On the client side, we had to install an Accellion agent to reroute e-mail with attachments to the Accellion appliance. After installing the agent and configuring user-name and password information, an Accellion Attach button was added to the tool bar of our Outlook client.

When using the Accellion Attach button, URL links are added to the end of a message instead of attachments. When recipients receive the message and click on a URL, the cache server puts up a Web page from which the recipient can download the attachment. Before uploading attachments to the appliance, the agent uses GNU Zip to compress the file and help lower bandwidth consumption.

Accellion Attachments 3.5 can be configured to require authentication of messages, thus adding a level of security if a message falls into the hands of unauthorized recipients.

The management interface allowed us to configure the authentication policy based on size. We could, for example, stipulate that only files larger than 1MB be authenticated.

A new security option enables Accellion Attachments 3.5 to encrypt attachments at the senders desktop, before uploading to the appliance.

The attachment fingerprint, a unique identifier that can be created for each attached file, is another interesting new option. The unique identifier verifies that a recipient is receiving the correct version of a file. This should ensure that no one alters files stored on the Accellion Attachments appliance—an important requirement for e-mail archive compliance.

Accellion Attachments 3.5s management tools provide valuable information about bandwidth use and users. A bill-back/chargeback feature allows IT managers to charge departments for sending excessive amounts of e-mail over the WAN.

Offloading large data files, such as presentations and video, also allows e-mail servers to be backed up and restored more rapidly. This is important, given the vital nature of e-mail uptime at most companies and the fact that mail servers are often targeted by worms and viruses.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at henry_baltazar@ziffdavis.com.


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