E-mail storage management company Azaleos and its partners IBM and Microsoft introduced a new specialized appliance June 14 that aims to lower the operation and maintenance costs of the notoriously complex Microsoft Exchange e-mail server.
Azaleos BladeMail, announced at Microsoft TechEd in Boston, is a turnkey, stand-alone e-mail appliance based on IBM BladeCenter hardware and diskless blades supported by an IBM System Storage N3700 fabric-attached storage system, Chief Technology Officer Keith McCall told eWEEK.
BladeMail also comes with an ASP-like (application service provider) service that backs up a customers entire e-mail process on its own servers in case of a disaster recovery crisis.
Azaleos, based in Redmond, Wash., IBM and Microsoft have been working together over the last year to develop what McCall termed a “holistic answer” to meet the needs of organizations of all sizes running Exchange.
“BladeMail is designed to … deliver 99.999 percent availability [as well as to] provide optional full-fidelity disaster recovery services,” McCall said.
Exchange is the key e-mail application for thousands of businesses in the United States. However, the heavy-lifting server also places often-grueling physical demands on the IT organizations responsible for its care and uptime, said Azaleos CEO Roger Gerdes.
BladeMail basically separates the flow of e-mail from the storage apparatus and acts like a traffic cop in smoothing out the ebb and flow of an enterprises deluge of digital mail.
“When it comes to Exchange, IT executives have two primary concerns: ensuring that their e-mail messaging systems are up and running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that they can easily scale to add users at a fixed cost,” Gerdes said.
With a cost-effective blade-based architecture and virtualized storage, BladeMail scales to meet the e-mail requirements of all sizes of companies, McCall said. Up to 17,500 Exchange 2003 e-mail users can be supported from a single BladeCenter chassis; an expected 70,000 Exchange 2007 e-mail users will be supported per BladeCenter when Exchange 2007 becomes available, he said.
Sports clothing and equipment retailer Zumiez, an Azaleos customer with more than 175 stores and 2,000 employees, is an early beta customer of the BladeMail solution.
“With BladeMail, we can leverage our existing infrastructure to reduce our costs and keep our system management overhead to a minimum,” said Lee Hudson, technology director for Zumiez, headquartered in Everett, Wash. “Fully utilizing the storage virtualization capabilities of our NetApp SAN [storage area network] combined with a blade-centric approach helps us simplify our server environment and enhances our disaster recovery strategy.”
With the impending release of Microsoft Exchange 2007, companies will face new issues and costs associated with migrating users from the current version of Exchange.
Using Azaleos, McCall said, companies now can insert a BladeMail server into their existing environment, move users onto Exchange 2003 and let Azaleos migrate the entire system to Exchange 2007 using Azaleos patent-pending image-based patch management capabilities.
In December 2005, San Francisco-based Ferris Research estimated that the costs of migrating to Microsoft Exchange 2007 could be as high as $500 per user for those companies seeking to “roll their own” solutions, said Ferris Lee Benjamin.
“With the introduction of BladeMail from Azaleos, we believe these costs can be contained and reduced,” Benjamin said.
BladeMail, currently being beta tested, is expected to be generally available for Exchange 2003 in Q3 2006. Availability of BladeMail for Exchange 2007 will coincide with Microsofts release of the product, McCall said.