Legato EmailXtender provides automated e-mail and attachment archiving, full text search and retrieval, availability and resource usage analysis for the messaging servers. It works with MS Exchange, Lotus Domino, UNIX Sendmail, Bloomberg Mail, Instant Messaging gateways or proxy server products such as FaceTime or Akonix, which export IM conversations as XML formatted SMTP messages to EmailXtender. Though Domino and Sendmail can work on UNIX and Linux environments also, along with Windows, the installation of the EmailXtender program requires a Windows 2000 Server.
Why use MailXtender?
Before getting into the product's performance, it's important to understand the need for such a mail archiving solution. MailXtender aims to handle two major challenges most organizations face-mail management and regulatory compliance. With an increasing user base, e-mail traffic and overtime, the e-mail storage space runs into hundreds of GB. Moreover, if you're using platforms such as Exchange or Domino, then you might also be using their features such as public folders, workflow apps, calendars and chat, which require additional storage space. Putting in more storage capacity may not be a big issue, but it can take a toll on the server's performance. It would take longer to do mail searches, backup and recovery. MailXtender is meant to offload your mail servers of the data to another server so that their performance doesn't reduce.
As far as compliance is concerned, today it's becoming mandatory for a lot of companies to maintain e-mail records. For this, companies need to ensure that all mail is centralized, and that it should be searchable. MailXtender helps in this regard as well, since it archives messages, and has good search capabilities, as we'll soon see.
How we tested
We tested the product with Exchange 2003 running on Windows 2000 AS. EmailXtender was installed on a separate Windows 2000 AS machine. The good part about EmailXtender is that it requires no interference with your messaging system, which means no restarts or service unavailability for the users. The installation is simple and asks you for the location where you want the e-mail messages to be archived. You can archive messages to the hard disk, tape, optical, magneto-optical or EMC's Centera storage media. You may think that archiving to tape will limit the ability to search messages. But, that is not the case, since it indexes all messages to an MS SQL Server 2000 (Standard or Enterprise edition) database. So, you will have to buy an SQL Server license, as well, for using this product. We would have appreciated if the product also supported MSDE (Microsoft Database Engine), since it is available for free. However, it is less scalable than the paid for versions. All search is performed against the database and the actual message is fetched from the storage media, be it tape, disk or optical. Since an SQL server does the search it is much faster than other types of search, whether indexed or not indexed.
EMailXtender can work with several messaging servers, irrespective of their type. If you're using Exchange Server, you need to configure it to archive all messages to a particular mailbox. Then EmailXtender takes all those messages and archives them to its store. You can also set the number of months you want to retain the messages for. There's an exclusion list in case you don't want messages to be archived for particular domains, e-mail addresses or keywords. All messages that are archived can also be forwarded to other e-mail addresses. Apart from full text message indexes, searchable text indexes can be created for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, RTF, PDF, Word Perfect, MS Works, dBase/FoxPro and other spreadsheet attachments. With this you have the ability to search for text within attachments as well. If you are concerned about the confidentially of your data, then you can set the option of encrypting data using 64/128-bit algorithm. Data encryption is disabled, by default. To save on disk space, EmailXtender can also compress data before it is archived. To save even more on storage space, it maintains only a single copy of the message and attachment in the archive, even when it is sent to multiple recipients.
The ability to archive data is not limited to e-mail or IM, it extends to Notes or Outlook, tasks, contacts, tasks and calendars. You can archive such data by using a tool called MailXtract, which is bundled with the product. You need to define a task, which will archive such data. These tasks can be run for one time or be scheduled for automated archiving. You can also archive data from local Outlook .pst files residing on client machines. This feature even lets you archive messages, for users having e-mail accounts, other than Exchange or Domino. But, for that you will need to share the users' .pst files over the network, which is not a good practice for security reasons.
There is another feature, which lets you save storage space on the mail server to a great extent. It lets you remove user mail from the mail server, and only have shortcuts on it. So the actual mail body and attachments are moved to the archive, and only the message header remains on the server. The header also has a reference to where the message is actually stored in the archive. Whenever you want to access a particular mail item, and then click on the shortcut and the actual message body is fetched from the archive and restored on to the server. You can make shortcuts for all old messages, so that they do not waste precious storage on the mail server. This way you don't have to delete any data on the mail server and still can contain the amount of storage space taken by them.
To search mail, you have a browser-based interface and an Outlook/Notes plug-in. Searching, either by a browser or plug-in, requires you to log in using your mail server username and password and then you can search your mails for the last one day or the last year or even earlier than that. All your messages, IM, tasks, notes, contacts, calendars will be there, no matter whether you have deleted them or lost them in case of a virus attack or server crash. After you have found the data you want, you can import it to your mail client or the server mailbox. You can search for words, dates, size, number of attachments, importance level and sensitivity level. For security a user cannot search other users' data. Only an administrator can do that.
For e-mail storage and usage analysis, the software gives you detailed reports on the used space, type and number of attachments and number of messages sent or received, for individual users.
The Bottom Line: Overall, a useful product for enterprises dealing with issues of regulatory compliance and managing growing amounts of e-mail data on the mail servers.