Richard Fleishman & Associates (RFA) is a provider of email and other IT solutions to the financial industry. The firm has had great success providing solutions for the special requirements of hedge funds and other small and mid-sized financial institutions that are regulated under SOX, FINRA, SEC 17(4)a or other industry-specific laws regarding the management and retention of business data. RFA is located in New York City and primarily services customers in the Northeast United States.
For several years, RFA has incorporated Metalogix Archive Manager into its standard email system deliverable as an important component for streamlining Exchange storage infrastructure, ensuring consistent performance, and providing a compliant long-term repository that would eliminate the unacceptable alternative of using PSTs.
In the financial industry, there is a large-scale trend for upgrading to Exchange 2010 as end-users and providers like RFA seek to take advantage of the various benefits compared to previous releases. However, RFA and others in the financial sector are challenged by the fact that email is one of their most critical production applications, which makes it extremely difficult to schedule downtime, even for the most important maintenance tasks. To meet this challenge, RFA engineered a repeatable and reliable Exchange upgrade process that limits downtime.
RFA’s upgrade service is a “1-shot version cutover” that is performed in a single weekend and encompasses all setup, testing, migration of data and mailboxes, and reconfiguration and test. They can deliver a timely version of this service thanks to Metalogix Archive Manager, which can simultaneously interface and provide archived data access to both Exchange 2010 and earlier versions. With all data copied into the archive, users can replace much of the data in Exchange with shortcuts that occupy only a fraction of the primary data storage yet continue to provide transparent and rapid access to the data now located in the archive. As a result, in an Exchange upgrade the amount of data that has to be migrated to the new Exchange 2010 server is greatly reduced while users can maintain access to their data at any time from either Exchange environment.
“Our typical customer has from 50 to 200 users and, without archiving, the mailboxes grow to over 10 to 15 GB per mailbox,” said Grigoriy Milis, RFA. “In an upgrade, it could take 4 to 5 days to physically move this data to Exchange 2010 from the older version. Because we can use Archive Manager automation to replace aging emails in Exchange with smaller shortcuts that provide continued access to the email, Archive Manager helps us significantly reduce the size of the Exchange mailboxes without impacting our end-users.”
Prior to the upgrade to Exchange 2010, RFA sets rules in Archive Manager to begin shortcutting or
“stubbing” aging emails more and more aggressively until the amount of data in each mailbox is below
a threshold of 2 to 3 GB per mailbox. The rules usually target emails older than 120 or 180 days, though
the rules can be adjusted to 90 days for users with larger mailbox density. The process of deploying the
Archive in preparation for Exchange data migration does not involve any significant bulk data transfer that could negatively impact performance prior to the cutover dates.
“Once we have used the Archive to shortcut older email data, we can perform the standard migration of mailboxes and data within 10 to 12 hours for all users,” said Milis. “Because we have much smaller mailboxes with compact ‘stubs’ replacing file attachments, the process is typically ten times faster than it would be without Metalogix Archive Manager.”
While the migration process moves stubs into the 2010 environment, the data in the archive can remain in place and exhibits the same behavior when accessed from Exchange 2010 as on the old system. When aged data is accessed in a newly migrated mailbox, it is retrieved transparently directly from the archive. If the archive administrator wishes to increase the amount of data that is stored in full on the Exchange server after migration, they can easily and efficiently direct restoration of data in the archive back to Exchange at any time.
“We have made Metalogix Archive Manager a key component of this process because of its clear benefits of keeping the actual upgrade to Exchange 2010 within an acceptable window,” said Milis. “Additionally, the solution benefits us after the upgrade because Exchange 2010 has clear-cut requirements for enhanced archiving capabilities.”
The benefits of using Metalogix Archive Manager for Exchange 2010 go well beyond streamlining the
upgrade process. Many users do not realize that Exchange 2010 will require a major increase in storage
infrastructure unless a third-party archive product like Metalogix Archive Manager is used. That is because Exchange 2010 no longer includes built-in single instance storage functionality to deduplicate redundant data in the Exchange store. Also, Exchange 2010 also provides important new data protection and availability capabilities through its Database Availability Groups (DAGs). This feature requires redundant storage and therefore leads to a doubling of storage infrastructure and costs.
These two factors mean that the amount of storage required to support a pre-existing database from earlier Exchange versions usually increases dramatically with 2010. The impact of this growth will transfer over into significantly longer backups and recovery times and much greater administrative complexity as storage will have to be constantly monitored. This means that infrastructure must be refreshed periodically even after the upgrade is complete. In contrast, using Metalogix Archive Manager allows users to maintain an unchanging tier-1 storage profile and transfer periodic storage growth to the archive where it is significantly less expensive and complex to scale and manage retained data over time.
“We have been able to use Metalogix Archive Manager as a way to move to Exchange 2010 without
having to significantly grow the expensive Tier 1 disk store of our users and invest in substantially larger
infrastructure components,” said Milis.