May 5, 2009

Sizing up the Exchange 2010 Integrated Archives

A couple weeks ago I posted information on Microsoft's Exchange 2010 beta announcement. Since this is Microsoft's first foray into email archiving as a product, let alone an integrated feature of Exchange, I was curious about the implementation and what customers could expect. I've now got some more answers and it looks like the new service falls somewhere between a local personal archive and an centralized email archival and records management system.

Bottom line, the Exchange 2010 integrated archiving is a feature of the mailbox server role and builds email archives on the same server as the live mailbox. The archive is stored in centrally managed Exchange message store that allows administrative access to archived message content and ediscovery capabilities. The end user experience in the mailbox is a separate folder for the archived messages. The archive does not support SIS or stubbing, and there is no tiered storage management or records management for archive disposition other than the global mailbox purge, retention and hold features introduced in Exchange 2007. As far as existing local personal archive PSTs, users can drag and drop existing archives to the server based store from their desktops (probably requires Outlook).

So far Microsoft is looking at the beta program to gain more insight on how this new feature will impact server performance and number of mailboxes the server can support. Exchange 2007 brought economies of scale by increasing the number of mailboxes supported by a single server and I'm curious how the increased archiving might impact that performance. I suppose this is more of a storage issue than a messaging service issue; storage will likely need to be increased on mailbox servers to support the archives.

One of the questions I have is how disruptive the integrated archiving will be on the current email archiving market and whether it will put partners out of business. In general, if customers need more robust archiving and records management the Exchange 2010 archiving will not be sufficient, but for remedying problems associated with personal archives and errant PST files the solution will likely be popular. At this point, customers that require heavy lifting with storage and records management they will continue to look to third parties that offer more control over the archives.


Jack L Dausman said...

Interesting, I'm guessing that the logic is the back-end storage could be split between high-speed SAN, and something cheaper (and less efficient) for the archive storage.

At least they can finally support a web front-end for their archiving.

Karen Hobert said...

@Jack - agreed. I'll be learning more at TechEd next week so if I have any more insights I'll share. Overall it's the balance of providing, as you point out, and integrated front end (Outlook folder) with centralized archive storage (rather than local PSTs) without having to get into the whole archiving system business; something Microsoft would probably have had to buy.