REVIEWER: Alan Weiss, network engineer for Kalmbach Publishing Co.
BACKGROUND: Kalmbach Publishing Company is an independent and privately held publishing company in Waukesha, Wisconsin, responsible for publishing more than a dozen periodicals and countless books on a wide variety of hobbies and sports.
PLATFORMS: Windows 2003 Server and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003.
PROBLEM SOLVED: As recently as eight years ago, people used many forms of communication; the phone, regular mail and faxes were all well-used alternatives. Now, email is an absolute necessity. Its become critical to keep email available and lessen the impact of any problem that might occur along the way. We have an Exchange environment of about 300 mailboxes, and we needed to protect it from disastrous outages and data loss. Before using Replay from AppAssure, we attempted to use a traditional backup product to restore messages and recover from email problems. It just wasnt working, so I began to look for a way to resolve email loss and outage problems more efficiently.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Replay takes snapshots of every change across our entire Exchange environment every 15 minutes and checks the Exchange databases (EDBs) for corruption. Were imaging not just the data, but the operating system and application, too. This way, we can perform anything from restoring a message or mailbox to full, bare metal (operating system, applications and all their settings). By checking for corruption, we know that our backups will always be recoverable. Each snapshot is a differential, so it takes place quickly and requires minimal storage. If we have an outage, I know that Ill be up quickly, with virtually zero data loss, versus a traditional recovery, which will take me offline for an entire day, resulting in significant data loss. Additionally, we can access the recovery points to locate old messages that users lost or deleted and restore them back in seconds, or even export them to PST files.
STRENGTHS: Replay had a 30-day trial, and it was easy to request, download and install. In just one week, we had it running and were testing it in the lab. We deleted messages on purpose and then recovered them quickly to test-drive the recovery functions. Replay is quite easy to use and doesnt require a lot of documentation because its generally intuitive. Its so easy Im able to figure things out myself.
WEAKNESSES: They release a new version often - each quarter. So, sometimes it is hard to know whether I should upgrade. If I skim the release notes or give a call to my dedicated account representative, I can find out quickly whether it is important to upgrade. However, upgrading is very easy and only takes a few minutes.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Replay offers superior ease of use and intuitiveness, great value and affordability, 15-minute recovery point frequency, message-level restore capabilities, friendliness and great support.
DELIVERABLES: Replay protects our entire Microsoft Exchange Server from prolonged outages and data loss. The software sits on any Windows 2003 server and creates application stateful recovery points that can be archived for record keeping and security requirements. The softwares storage allocation and retention periods are customizable. Additionally, the software can be configured to work with backup products and perform routine Exchange maintenance automatically.
VENDOR SUPPORT: You can tell that AppAssure really knows their product. I havent had to rely too heavily on AppAssures technical support to get Replay going or to use the product.I have developed confidence in the engineering and expertise behind the product. There was one time I couldnt recover a folder that had been deleted. I called AppAssure technical support and they helped me fix the problem right away. Another time, I mentioned that when I did a once-a-day backup for off-site storage I encountered some error messages. It turned out that they were a result of my configuration and did not impact the process - just a product of my backup running out of sync with the 15-minute snapshots. AppAssure completely understood what I was talking about and came up with a way to turn off the snapshots for a period of time. They make using Replay even easier.
DOCUMENTATION: The product is very intuitive and easy to use. I was able to figure things out myself with minimal reliance on documentation and support. However, it is nice to know that both are there for me when needed.
Replay Enterprise Edition
AppAssure Software, Inc.
1925 Isaac Newton Square East
Reston, VA 20190 USA
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