Microsoft is hooking up with IBM for the first time to help large companies handle an increasingly worrisome problem: e-mail archiving for e-discovery, legal and audit reasons.
Starting Oct. 19, Microsoft and its channel partners are to begin recommending a new IBM e-mail archiving product to enterprise customers through an extensive business partner program that will be based on hardware, software and services.
The package includes Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 software and a slew of IBM server and storage hardware, software and services. The IBM and Microsoft software is pre-loaded and pre-tested as part of the package delivery.
The IBM e-mail archiving and storage product will be available through IBM Business Partners and is designed to enable companies to retain e-mail for corporate governance and legal discovery purposes.
It is also designed to address immediate and future challenges with growing e-mail systems, improve performance and optimize storage investments, reduce backup/restore times, and allow for faster server consolidation and upgrades.
The IBM/Microsoft package incorporates tiered archiving storage capability for attached tape storage, supporting lower costs and provides options for data encryption capabilities for added security.
This represents the first storage development partnership between Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., and IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., IBM technology strategist Gordon Arnold told eWEEK.
“Weve been doing some interoperational testing this year [with Microsoft], and were cooperating in areas that we feel are win-win situations for our customers,” Arnold said.
Arnold said that Microsoft was one of the few companies with a large enough market presence to make this kind of collaboration work.
IDC, in Framingham, Mass., recently estimated that the volume of corporate e-mail has increased more than threefold in recent years, up from 9.7 billion in 2000 to more than 35 billion in 2005, with the e-mail archiving market revenue reaching $318 million worldwide in 2005—up 59 percent from the previous year.
This exponential growth in e-mail archiving represents a surge that IDC forecasts will reach $471 million in 2006 and continue to grow to $1 billion in 2010.
With digital e-mail imaging and instant messaging on the rise, along with more archiving and compliance regulations, corporations are seeking cost-effective archiving methodology to prevent their corporate storage systems from drowning in e-mail.
“The IBM e-mail archive and integrated storage solution presents a best-of-breed, end-to-end offering that will help customers manage their information on demand needs,” said Kristie Bell, vice president, IBM System Storage.
“The solution were announcing is designed to address the mushrooming e-mail and storage management needs of businesses … and unlike the EMC Centera, this solution provides customers with a Windows-based e-mail archiving solution in their Windows environment, better leveraging their existing skills.”
The IBM part of the package includes an upgrade (with e-mail search functionality) of the existing IBM CommonStore eMail Archiving Preload, pre-tested on an IBM System x BladeCenter Server platform, powered by AMD Opterons.
It is integrated with archiving capabilities using the IBM System Storage Archive Manager software. The IBM System Storage DS4200 Express disk storage system with SATA (serial ATA) storage capacity rounds out the Big Blue lineup.
The DS4200 component can be ordered in a 4TB or 8TB option and can be expanded via expansion modules.
The email archive package, including storage and services, will be available from IBM and IBM Business Partners in the first quarter of 2007 starting at a list price of $55,000 with optional eMail Search for an additional $2,000.
Intended for quick and easy implementation
In an environment where customers are concerned about compliance, they want to be assured that they are archiving their e-mail correctly, Amy Wohl, president of Wohl Associates in Merion Station, Pa., told eWEEK.
“This is a good solution and is intended to be quick and easy to implement. It also allows cross-organizational searches [which are nearly impossible now], treating all of the archived e-mail as an unstructured data base,” Wohl said.
Does this package have a “captive audience” of Windows users?
“There are lots of Windows users [using both Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino] who could use this,” Wohl said.
“Many Microsoft business partners are already IBM business partners, so its easy to offer this solution. Microsoft business partners who do not currently have a relationship with IBM can easily enter a basic level partner relationship and sell the archiving offering.
“Because of the large number of users of Microsoft Exchange, selling just to a relatively small percentage of them should be a lucrative market.”
Keith McCall, CTO and co-founder of Azaleos, in Redmond, Wash., which makes an appliance that automates all aspects of the Microsoft Exchange e-mail server, told eWEEK that “this offering appears to contain services for deployment but not for actual monitoring, management or maintenance of the archiving solution once built. That is left to VAR/VAD business partners.”
McCall said he believes the partnership by IBM and Microsoft validates the importance of e-mail archiving in businesses of any size.
However, McCall said that a complete e-mail solution needs to align archiving with existing business processes, retention policies and mailbox quotas, and be monitored, maintained and supported by services available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
“While e-mail infrastructure availability has become mission critical, e-mail has also become a record, discoverable and admissible in many courts around the world—whether stored in Microsoft Exchange or in an archive repository,” McCall said.
“Customers should carefully select the complete end-to-end solution that delivers maximum value and protection of this critical corporate asset.”