For this Exchange Server Archiver, "Transparency" Fits

Sometimes, it is a great relief when a user of your software gives it a tough test and then reports that it just works automatically without the users even knowing about it. Once again, Exchange Server Archiver just quietly gets on with its job.

But recently, completely unbidden, I heard a real engineer use the term.  It was Matthew Studer, an MCSE and administrator for Riverside Radiology Associates in Columbus, Ohio.  He said it in a conversation about Red Gate’s Exchange Server Archiver.  The exact phrase: “It’s transparent to the user.”  He said this about 20 minutes into an interview in which everything else he said was perfectly credible, so I believe him.

Archiving everything

In addition to his other duties administering advanced systems for imaging and voice dictation for Riverside Radiology, Matthew Studer is in charge of 250 mailboxes serving approximately 200 employees.  About 70 of these employees are very specialized radiologists trained at some of the leading national centers.  The nature of Riverside’s work means that all e-mails – even those that have been deleted from a user’s mailbox – need to be archived.

Cloud storage is not an option, due to security issues with health-related information. The other obvious solution is to archive everything within Microsoft Exchange Server.  But that leads to a problem: Duplicating every e-mail in Exchange Server’s archive mailbox can quickly lead to memory overruns.

“I want to save all e-mails, but keep the size of the mail store manageable,” says Studer.

Don’t mess with my Exchange Server

Studer tried a commercial archiver but didn’t like the fact that it installed directly into Exchange Server.  He didn’t want the additional load on system memory or possible negative effects another program could have on his Exchange Server installation.

“I don’t want anything to mess with my Exchange Server,” he says.

Studer uses Red Gate’s SQL Backup (“love it – simple, quick and it works“) and thought he would give the beta version of the company’s Exchange Server Archiver a try.

“It was easy to install, and I like the fact that it is a separate component from Microsoft Exchange Server, so it can be installed on a different server.  It doesn’t change anything in Exchange Server unless you want it to.”

Setting up the journaling mailbox

Shortly after installing the beta version of Exchange Server Archiver, Studer posed a question to Red Gate about archiving deleted messages.  Robert Chipperfield, one of the product’s developers, recommended setting up a journaling mailbox in Exchange, and archiving it with an “Always” condition.  This enables everything to get archived from that mailbox during scheduled runs.

Studer tried this, and each night the journaling mailbox was emptied into Red Gate’s Exchange Server Archiver, housed on another server.  The Red Gate archiver also provides compression to conserve resources on the host server. 

“Even if a message is deleted in a user mailbox, I’ll know that it is being archived on another server, and I won’t have issues of running out of memory space on Microsoft Exchange Server,” says Studer.

Although he is not certain he will use them, Studer tested rules on some IT colleagues and temporary workers, setting conditions on the Red Gate archiver to remove e-mails after three months and attachments larger than 3 MB.  This also worked well for him.

Better life through transparency

Studer plans to install Exchange Server Archiver when it becomes available as an official product.  He thinks the “transparency” for users will make his life a bit easier.

“I won’t have to worry about people’s mailboxes growing out of control.  We have a lot of users who exceed the mailbox limits all the time.  They’ll send me an e-mail saying that they are over the limit and I might have to go hold their hands to get the mailbox back to a good level.  Now, it will just be archived automatically without them even knowing it.”

OK, I’ll admit it.  That sounds transparent to me.

Exchange Server Archiver has now been released. More at