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Evaluation of Symantec Enterprise Vault and Mimosa Nearpoint

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Introduction

In this “white paper” I will articulate the differences between Symantec Enterprise vault and Mimosa Nearpoint email archiving systems. My intention is not to decry one product over the other but rather to point out key differences in their architecture and functionality. My goal is to provide a better means by which to make a decision in the vast email archiving arena.
You may wonder why I have chosen these two products; quite simply, these are Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant” top players. 

Additionally, I have extensive experience with both products in the real world and I have tested or evaluated several of the other “players” in this market. I am asked often to explain the differences between these two systems.
Symantec’s Enterprise Vault is a vast product with many features that Mimosa’s Nearpoint system does not cover; this is due mostly to the fact that Enterprise Vault is a much more mature product. So I will highlight the features that are of significant value in each product.
Audience
This is intended for IT personnel that have basic understanding of email systems, storage systems and networking. If you are using this to make a decision and you are not an IT professional, some of the terms and lack of detailed explanation will hinder you. You should consult with one of your engineers after reading this publication.
Experience
I am an IT professional of 15 years. Three of those years as a consultant, which I am working as now, 10 years working as a systems administrator at several bay area corporations and several years running my own IT service related business.
My experience with Mimosa is 1 1/2 years running it , a (editorial note - removed per request) .
My experience with Symantec Enterprise Vault is as a consultant deploying it. I am Symantec Certified in Enterprise Vault 7.5. I now consult for a IT Engineering organization, Cornerstone Technologies, LLC.
NOTE: I wrote extensively about Mimosa and how my evaluation was performed in a “production copy” lab. That article is located at my own personal website. I will supply the link in the “supporting documents” section of this paper.
Mimosa Nearpoint Architecture
 
(editorial note - removed per request)
 
You will see this throughout the article as I have been requested by Mimosa to remove any information about their product. It’s funny I wrote another article that was on my site for 2 years about their product and they sent customers there all the time to read it and it had pretty much the same technical info in it. They even had me do an in-depth interview with a eWeek reporter and a webinar for their customers. But the new article, which was not derogatory in any way, but completely fact based completely freaked them out. I guess they don’t want their customers to know the truth? Well you may see the unedited version back here again, maybe…


Symantec Enterprise Vault Architecture
    Detailed below in “Diagram 2” you will see the basic high level layout of Symantec’s Enterprise Vault. There are 3 servers (to start) used in the EV system. You may or may not also need an external storage system such as a SAN (Storage Area Network) or NAS (Network Attached Storage) for the storage needs of the system.
    • MS SQL Server
    • Enterprise Vault Server
    • Your Exchange Server
    • Storage

    Diagram 2 – Enterprise Vault
    alt
    Architecture

    • Services
      • The EV server is Running IIS services as all client access is through HTTP or HTTPS.
      • There are EV services running as well; Enterprise Vault Admin Service, Enterprise Vault Directory Service, Enterprise Vault Indexing Service, Enterprise Vault Shopping Service, Enterprise Vault Task Controller Service, Enterprise Vault Storage Service.
    • Storage requirements
      • Volume for the Archive.
      • Volume for the Index.
      • Index disks must be high performance, fiber-channel preferred, no NAS!
    • SQL database sizes vary amongst installations. Below are the database sizes for my Lab installation with 50 mailboxes and total information store sizes of 35 gigs (some whitespace).
      • EnterpriseVaultDirectory – 35mb
      • Enterpris VaultMonitoring (optional) - 180mb
      • EnterpriseVault - 180mb
    Basic Function
      In design Enterprise Vault sets up “Targets” or Exchange servers. This basically adds your Exchange server to the Enterprise Vault Directory so it can be archived.

      • Archiving
        • First an “Archive” is setup. This includes the creation of the “Store” database. The archive can reside on any disk sub-system, SAN or NAS as high performance is not required for archive storage.
        • Now polices are set up based on date/time, size or water mark for archiving. The Exchange server is accessed by MAPI and mailboxes are scanned for items that should be archived. Items that meet the policy are removed from the Exchange server using MAPI and replaced with a shortcut. This “shortcut” is an Outlook form that is stored in the ORG forms library on the Exchange server.
        • It should be noted that an Outlook Add-in must be deployed to end users before they can access the archive.

        Feature Comparison

        • Archive Storage
          • (editorial note - removed per request) versus Symantec Enterprise Vaults’s “Vault”. So one of the key differences here is that the (editorial note - removed per request) is put in here. Whereas Symantec only stores messages that meet the policy criteria during an archive run. This means that the Mimosa (editorial note - removed per request) and Enterprise Vault will have only the messages that meet the archive policy, thereby Symantec will need les storage.
          • Mimosa has a (editorial note - removed per request)
          • Mimosa stores (editorial note - removed per request) 
          • Both products have the ability to close off a storage area IOR (Mimosa) or Archive (EV) and open a new one but maintain access to all. This would be done as an archive area grows too large.
          • Symantec has the ability to gather the “dvs” files and place them in a .CAB file. The size of the .CAB file is controlled through policy. The .CAB files can be moved off to another storage system such as tape. Symantec does integrate with NetBackup. Mimosa (editorial note - removed per request).

          • Archiving
            • Mimosa has a feature called (editorial note - removed per request)
            • Symantec uses “Journaling” to do a complete capture of all messages that traverse the email system or you can just choose mailboxes to archive. Mimosa does not use “Journaling as they (editorial note - removed per request) 
              • The scenario would go like this: (editorial note - removed per request)
              • With Journaling it doesn’t matter if Symantec loses connectivity, as all mail is delivered to the Journal mailbox. So when connectivity is regained whatever is in the journal mailbox is pulled.
            • Mimosa captures (editorial note - removed per request) With Symantec you will only be able to retrieve what has been archived.

          • Single Instancing
            • Both products offer “single instancing”. This is where more than one copy of an attachment has been archived and as the system determines that both files are the same one is kept the other deleted. Exchange does this as well but only amongst storage groups where as the Mimosa product will (editorial note - removed per request). The Symantec product has this same functionality but in their new release they can perform this across all archives giving them an edge in cutting down on storage consumption.

              • Legal Discovery
                • Both products can perform searches through there archive for the purpose of legal discovery. In fact this is the driving force behind sales of email archiving solutions nowadays. The Mimosa product (editorial note - removed per request). The interface is drastically different from the Symantec product. The Mimosa product (editorial note - removed per request).
                • The Symantec product has the capability for advanced complex searches as well. In use both products are complex and you will need training to use them but the Symantec product really shows its maturity here as it has a wealth of tools and customizations for the search. Also Symantec has some very granular controls for who can do what, “roles assignment” as it is called (actually Mimosa uses the same terminology) but Mimosa has (editorial note - removed per request) only.
                • The eDiscovery product from Mimosa has (editorial note - removed per request). The Symantec product uses a web interface that can be accessed by any computer and is controlled by domain account login.
                • In the Symantec product searches can be scheduled for off hours to reduce workload on the SQL server and EV sever.
                • Both products can mark items for “hold” so that any retention policies do not deleted messages found in the search.

                • Outlook
                  • Both products have Outlook client functionality. The mimosa product does not install any applications to the client for its basic functions. The Symantec product needs to install a small client in Outlook.
                  • Mimosa uses an (editorial note - removed per request).
                  • Both products have an “offline” feature that can be deployed to mobile users. This feature allows you to have access to your archived email when you do not have access to your companies Network.
                  • Both products have OWA access to the archive as well. This feature works well in both products.

                      Well I could go on but I think I have covered the functionality that most IT personal will be looking for when the start the decision making process to purchase an email archiving product. It should be noted that I covered only the features that were shared between the products. Where Symantec starts to show its “enterprise” face is in the features not covered here. Features like; File System archiving, SharePoint archiving, Lotus Domino archiving, IM archiving and more.

                        Document Links
                        Email archiving:
                        http://www.arconi.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=60:emailarchiving&catid=47:white-papers&Itemid=79

                        Outlook performance – too many items in the inbox:
                        http://support.microsoft.com/kb/905803

                        Single instance storage explained (Wikpedia):
                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_Instance_Storage

                        Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant” document on email archiving products. (You will need to register)
                        http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?ref=g_search&id=674418&subref=advsearch

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