HP plots an effective e-mail archiving grid
Blade system creates a solid platform to aid in complianceFollow @infoworld
Security, scalability, and performance are the most obvious factors to consider when choosing an e-mail archiving system for your company. To be well prepared for responding to litigation or audits from regulatory bodies, you want a well-protected system that can quickly extract relevant messages from the millions or billions you’ve archived.
Operating cost should also figure prominently in your decision. After all, your company has probably already absorbed hefty storage management costs for those messages, and an archiving solution that requires a similar lineup of resources would divert even more precious dollars from your core business.
Does such an ideal e-mail archiving system exist? I tested Hewlett-Packard’s StorageWorks RISS (Reference Information Storage System) 1.1 -- announced last March -- and was impressed with its innovative architecture. Based on storage cells, HP RISS promises seamless archiving, quick message retrieval, and granular scalability.
Along with its forward-looking hardware platform, HP RISS offers apps to automatically capture and archive messages from Microsoft Exchange and to make powerful, easy-to-use queries from a standard e-mail client. The new version increases the storage capacity of each cell to 850GB and adds support for Lotus Domino servers.
Put Your Users on a Grid
Its underlying grid of resilient clusters, called SmartCells, differentiates RISS from the competition. Containing two blade servers that mirror their data for automatic fail-over, each SmartCell is self-sufficient and integrates seamlessly with other cells in the grid. A basic RISS system has a capacity of 1.7TB, which can be expanded in granular increments as your archiving needs grow.
Because each cell searches only 850GB and does so in parallel, the design is resilient and delivers fast retrieval. Moreover, RISS has the advantage of multiple processors, delivered with a number of cells that customers can adjust to suit their specific requirements.
With additional software (not installed in my test bed), admins can take advantage of the RISS cell structure when performing backups by focusing on new messages, skipping previously backed-up data. This clearly saves time and space on target media.
Using dedicated gateways for Exchange and Domino, RISS automatically captures messages without disturbing the e-mail server. However, you will need two gateways if both e-mail systems are in use in your datacenter.
The gateway automatically forwards messages to a front-end application, dubbed HP StorageWorks RIM (Reference Information Manager) for Messaging. RIM automatically stores, indexes, and retrieves e-mail messages across the grid.
That may sound complicated until you consider that, for any e-mail archiving system, all the aforementioned components must work. RISS has the advantage of being an integrated solution that is easy to use and requires minimal caretaking. In fact, understanding how the system works was the most difficult part of my review; actually working with it as an admin or user was plain simple.
For my evaluation, HP made available a working RISS system with gateways to Exchange and Domino servers. (Setup assistance is included with the system.) I began my review by opening Outlook Express on a client machine and logging in as a regular user to Exchange.