For many small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) today, email has become the primary communication vehicle, both internally and externally. It’s clear that whether we’re in the office or on the road with our BlackBerry, we all spend more time on email as an important part of our daily work.
So how do you protect and ensure high availability for this vital application and data to minimize disruption and maintain productivity for your executive staff, sales, services and other key employees? Most customers tell me they just use traditional backup solutions. But backup itself does not provide a high availability solution for the server, application and data. So what options are available?
One solution is failover clustering for application high availability, but it does not protect Microsoft Exchange data on the shared storage device, which is considered a single point of failure. In a cluster configuration, a physical storage device failure or corruption could actually cause the entire cluster to fail, so other complementary storage protection technologies must be deployed. While many enterprise IT organizations rely on expensive and complex Storage Area Networks (SAN) and RAID devices to help overcome this risk, most SMBs can’t justify these costs. And local server clustering does not address disaster recovery (DR) needs as there are distance limitations for remote/geo clustering. Additionally, most organizations use mobile email solutions like BlackBerry Enterprise Server which require equal protection. Microsoft now offers Data Availability Groups (DAGs) in Exchange 2010 and offers replication options in Exchange 2007. But DAGs and Exchange replication have limitations and may not be the best or simplest solution for SMBs. And who wants to manage different solutions for different releases?
An alternative is High Availability (HA) software that is typically less costly and complex to manage than failover clustering and offers integrated data protection too. It provides continuous real-time replication (data synchronization) of an organization’s production email servers with failover servers (also called replica servers) as well as real-time server monitoring for automated “fail over” and user redirection as soon as a production email server or application experiences a problem. The replica servers may be located right on the LAN or at any remote location for combined business continuity and disaster recovery protection. Administrators may also deploy a push-button, failover process for more granular control and flexibility. Better HA solutions also include a data rewind feature for continuous data protection (CDP) that allows you to quickly and easily roll your data or database back to a “known good point in time” after accidental or malicious data loss – for quick and easy recovery. Replication and CDP are the perfect complements to any periodic backup and snapshot solution.
Today, because there is really no room for email downtime, businesses and organizations of all sizes need to evaluate their email system protection needs. High Availability software solutions offer SMBs an affordable and easy way to manage and protect critical messaging applications to help maintain employee productivity. And remember, your HA software solution can be used on other critical Windows, Linux and UNIX application and file servers too.