EMC Kicks Off Storage Administrator For Exchange - InformationWeek

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EMC Kicks Off Storage Administrator For Exchange

EMC enhanced technology it gained when it bought Allocity last year to work with both Fibre Channel and iSCSI-based Clariion disk systems.

EMC Corp. on Wednesday launched Storage Administrator for Exchange, software designed to ease storage-administration tasks and provide rapid failover for Microsoft Exchange implementations deployed on EMC Clariion networked-attached storage devices. The product allows tasks such as E-mail management, data migration, and SAN storage to be performed from within Microsoft Exchange System Manager.

EMC acquired the underlying technology for Storage Administrator for Exchange last November when it bought Allocity Inc., whose core product, Live!Ex, provided backup and recovery, storage management, and storage-capacity planning for Microsoft Exchange systems. EMC has enhanced the product to work with both Fibre Channel and iSCSI-based Clariion disk systems.

For midsize Exchange installations—those with less than 3,000 mailboxes -- the product addresses the twin challenges of proliferation of E-mail and the switch from direct-attached storage to SANs. Storage administrators are finding direct-attached storage unwieldy for housing ever-growing E-mail volumes, yet many lack the expertise to deal with the complexity of SAN-based systems.

Storage Administrator for Exchange bridges the gap by allowing SAN administrative tasks to be carried out from the Exchange System Manager interface. "We believe the product is the only tool that allows you to manage storage complexity directly from Exchange," says Katie Curtin-Mestere, EMC's director of Clariion software marketing.

Although Allocity had a partnership arrangement with EMC, some EMC customers waited until the company actually acquired Allocity before committing to the product. "We were skeptical about putting something as important as Exchange atop a startup piece of software," says Jim Ryan, systems infrastructure manager at Perkins Coie LLP, a Seattle-based law firm.

Perkins Coie has 2,000 Exchange mailboxes, each containing between 4 Gbytes to 8 Gbytes of data. The mailboxes are gathered into 12 storage groups, each of which is assigned to one of four Exchange servers. Should one of the servers fail, its storage groups would be automatically reassigned to another server. "If one of the servers died, we'd migrate its storage groups in 15 minutes to one of the other servers," Ryan says.

Storage-management tasks such as allocation of disk drive space are made automatically. Storage Administrator for Exchange detects when a database is near capacity, and dynamically reallocates storage on Clariion, Ryan says.

The software provides a low-cost alternative to clustering, in which servers are interconnected to provide failover capabilities, and which requires complex software. Says Ryan, "We're using System Administrator for Exchange in lieu of Microsoft clustering services."

The software, which will be available this month, will start at $2,000 per Fibre Channel or iSCSI storage array when deployed on a Clariion AX100.

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