Iron Mountain wins email archiving test

All four participants offer enterprise scale tools

In the opening round of this two-part series, we tested seven leading e-mail archiving products. This time, we're applying the same test methodology to four additional products.

Our participants in round one were Barracuda, Deepinvent, GFI, Jantheon, Metalogix, RedGate and Symantec. Our second group consists of ArchiveOne Enterprise from C2C, NearPoint 4 from Iron Mountain, DataCove from Tangent and ZL Unified Archive from ZL Technologies.

Our decision to split the test into two parts was simply a way to accommodate all the vendors who wanted to participate.We decided that a single, 11-vendor test was too unwieldy.

Barracuda came in first among the seven products in Round One, followed closely by Symantec and GFI. Iron Mountain wins Round Two, with Tangent coming in a close second.

If we combine the scorecards from both tests, Barracuda comes out on top, followed by Iron Mountain and Tangent.

Among the four vendors tested this time around, all are enterprise-focused, although C2C has an Express version for 200 users or less, and the DataCove appliance is available in versions from less than 700 users to more than 7,000.

They are all scalable, supporting separate archive and database servers, with sophisticated policy engines that allow for creating policies that can meet the needs of many different types of regulatory, corporate or industry archiving requirements.

See how we conducted our tests

They all support single-instance storage, which means that only one copy of any given message is stored - if multiple users receive the same message, a link to the message is stored, which saves space over keeping multiple copies.

All provide auditing features to track who has searched for or accessed archived messages. Stubbing removes attachments and stores them on the archive server, using less-expensive storage, and restores them if a user attempts to access them.

All these products also allow archiving from one version of Exchange and restoring to another, which can make migration to a new version of Exchange easier and faster, and provides a way to back out if the migration doesn't work for any reason.

C2C and ZLTechnologies are software-only products; both offer cloud features, and can run in a virtualized environment. Iron Mountain (formerly Mimosa) sent an appliance but also offers software-only and hosted/cloud versions. The Tangent DataCove is an on-premise appliance. With cloud versions, the software or appliance can archive messages to an off-site system hosted by the vendor, reducing the storage you have to buy, and generally providing the service at a low price with great reliability and fault tolerance.

Installing an e-mail archiving solution is a complex process, and there are many aspects of a system that are impossible to determine from the marketing data, and beyond what we can list in this review. All of the software vendors offer 30-day free trial versions, and we strongly recommend using them.

The first step in choosing a system is to determine which of the basic e-mail archiving functions of compliance, fault tolerance or e-discovery are the most critical to your organization. Compliance with industry or government standards such as Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act, Payment Card Industry and Sarbanes-Oxley is a complex goal, fraught with pitfalls, since different standards may have conflicting requirements.

A flexible policy engine is critical to meeting these sorts of requirements, but can increase the complexity of installation and management of the system, since it requires creating, debugging and maintaining rules for handling the retention of e-mails as well as disposing of them after the required retention period. Generally speaking, the more flexible and capable an archiving system is, the more complex it will be to understand, set up and administer.

Fault tolerance and e-discovery also have differing requirements. While many may think of backing up and restoring the whole e-mail server when they think of fault tolerance, a more common use is to enable an admin or individual users to find and restore accidentally deleted messages.

A self-service portal that enables users to do this themselves can save substantial admin hours. E-discovery is essentially a search function, but one critical feature is legal hold, which ensures that messages found that relate to a particular legal case are not deleted until the case is resolved.

All four of these products will scale to thousands of users, and offer a breadth of features that will allow them to be adapted to virtually any archiving requirement, though not necessarily with the same ease.

Iron Mountain is potentially the most scalable, with storage based on SQL Server - this also increases the complexity of installation and setup. Tangent offers the simpler installation of an appliance, with a flat-file-based storage system that offers excellent speed of searches. ZL Technologies has a relatively simple install, with a single executable, yet still scales well. C2C has both an express version that supports up to 200 users and offers a simple install, and an enterprise version that scales to thousands of users.

Feature chart

Here are the individual reviews:

C2C ArchiveOne Enterprise 

ArchiveOne Enterprise is a suite of products, with policy and compliance modules. The policy module has substantial pre-requisites, such as Microsoft's MAPI server components, DCOM and administrative accounts, which are typical for the products in this test. The documentation covers the initial setup well, and the entire process can be accomplished in less than an hour.

C2C also offers the option to archive off-site and store data at C2C's site. It uses an in-line (embedded) indexing engine, for speed, with data stored in flat files. In addition to Exchange, ArchiveOne can archive file systems, SharePoint and IBM Domino servers. There is an optional Outlook plug-in that makes accessing stubbed messages more transparent, but is not required.

ArchiveOne offers flexible policies for the archiving process as well as retention, the ability to search on any content including metadata, and good ease of use, with a self-service portal that allows users to recover accidentally deleted e-mails. Tracking of accesses is possible for security audits, and searches for e-discovery are simple to build, with flexible roles so that litigation support staff can search e-mails and pass requests to copy them to admins.

Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain (formerly Mimosa Systems) sent two servers, with its NearPoint Archiving server pre-installed on one and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 pre-installed on the other. The product is sold this way, and without an up-front fee for the appliance, just a per-user charge that is not particularly high - $36 to $60  per user per year. NearPoint is also sold as a software-only solution.

Setup and integration with the existing e-mail system is necessarily complex, with SQL Server services and permissions to configure, as well as many pre-requisites for the NearPoint install in the software-only version.

Administration can also be complex, simply because of the wide variety of options available. Rather than simple checkboxes for policies, the policy engine allows for rules to be built in a fashion similar to a scripting language. This offers the most flexibility, and is particularly useful if you need to build multiple policies to meet different requirements such as PCI and Sarbanes-Oxley.

Multiple roles can be defined, so that one user might be able to create searches but not view the results or access the e-mails that match. This allows for an administrator experienced in Boolean to define searches, while protecting privacy and limiting access to only those who need to see the content.

This sort of flexibility and breadth of configurability characterizes NearPoint throughout. An organization that has needs in all three usual areas of e-mail archiving, fault tolerance/disaster recovery, e-discovery and compliance, will find that NearPoint is equally strong in every area, and the most capable of being configured to meet very specific requirements.

Tangent DataCove V500

The DataCove appliance offers the easier configuration that comes with not having to install software and set up a database, though also with an upfront cost. However, this cost is not excessive, starting at $4,995 for up to 700 users. The actual cost per user is quite low as long as the number of users is toward the high end of the supported range, And the $1,195 fee for maintenance and updates is also relatively inexpensive.

Setup of the system is straightforward and quick. Once installed, the system can be quickly configured to meet e-discovery requests or to find and restore deleted e-mails. The policy engine is capable - though not as flexible as NearPoint, it is also easier to use. Searches were quick and consistently found the test e-mails. The browser-based search application offers excellent ease of use, and the administrator has excellent tools available for tracking and auditing searches.

Versions of the DataCove appliance are available to support 700 to 7,300 users. Cost is comparable to the server and OS that would be required in a software-only solution, and the appliance offers a simplicity of installation that can't be matched with a software-only solution.

ZL Technologies ZL Unified Archive 7.0.3

ZL Unified Archive is an inexpensive solution that is easy to install and can nonetheless scale well, using a grid architecture to create multiple servers if necessary. A single installer application allows for a five-minute install in a small environment, though it can also be customized for larger installs.

The installer software takes care of everything other than enabling .Net on the Microsoft Server software. It installs Apache Tomcat, Java and the ISAPI redirector, and configures the Microsoft IIS Web server. Once the installer finishes running, initial configuration to connect the archiving engine to Exchange is also straightforward and well documented.

ZL Unified Archive is a capable system, with a straightforward interface and good policy engine.

ZL Unified Archive also offers support for a number of other mail servers, including Lotus Notes, Oracle Beehive, Sun Java Messenger Server, Sendmail, Groupwise, and Unix servers, and can also archive SharePoint, File Servers, Instant Messaging and Social Media and Blackberry Enterprise Server.


All of these products will do a good job of meeting legislative or industry policy requirements, restoring lost e-mails or entire mail stores, and handling e-discovery requests. ArchiveOne has a good mix of capability and scalability, with more installation effort. NearPoint offers the greatest degree of configurability, though with a greater complexity in administration. DataCove offers the simplest installation, though with an upfront capital cost. ZL Unified Archive is a relative newcomer, with lots of features and a grid-based architecture for excellent scalability.

Given the very wide variety of differing requirements that a company may have depending on the legislative or industry compliance policies they must meet, along with the differing degrees of protection they may be looking for, there is no single solution that will make everyone happy. The best approach is to take advantage of the trial versions available to create a test bed and set up policies that will work for you.

Harbaugh is a freelance reviewer and IT consultant in Redding, Calif. He has been working in IT for almost 20 years, and has written two books on networking, as well as articles for most of the major computer publications. He can be reached at

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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