Mimosa Systems has a new system that will help business to backup, review and control e-mail across the company.

The disk-based backup of Exchange servers, NearPoint, will let you access individual messages, improve and simplify e-mail management and help businesses comply with storage regulations.

Exchange is the victim of its own success. According to Mimosa's VP of product marketing, Michael Ivanov, its database-level backup facility effectively prevents individual messages being vieweed. IT staff can't readily restore mailboxes or messages, either current or to a particular point in time. Nor can they find all messages relating to a particular topic in response to demands from compliance regulators or legal discovery initiatives. This is because the MAPI interface backs up the Exchange database. Any messages transacted after the backup are stored in transaction logs. Unless these are kept then restoring a failed Exchange server fully is virtually impossible.

When users need to recover a lost message the typical Help Desk response is to refuse because the effort required is so great. There is a MAPI-based message level back-up facility but it requires a separate "brick-level" back-up session which can take many hours. "Most businesses don't use it," Ivanov said.

He claims: "There is no sensible way of backing up Exchange server in one shot and have the database-level and message/folder/mailbox-level restore. There's also no sensible way to provide e-mail discovery for legal needs." IT staff are tearing their hair out trying to cope, he claimed.

NearPoint runs on a standard Windows server using commodity disk drives. It backs up a business' Exchange servers using the MAPI interface and requires no software agents. Then it interrogates the database and builds a full index of all mail folders, messages, senders, receivers, and attachments. Any messages sent or received after this back-up are applied immediately to the backed-up copy of the Exchange system such that it is virtually a mirror copy of the production Exchange databases.

Should one of them fail or should users require restoration of messages that are weeks or months old then they have browser access in Outlook to the NearPoint Exchange database and can retrieve messages or roll back their part of that database to a previous point in time to see messages as they then were.

Compliance staff can interrogate the NearPoint Exchange backup for messages dealing with certain subjects or to and from certain people. Legal discovery demands can readily be met.

Attachments can be taken off the main Exchange servers and stored on the NearPoint copy thus freeing up production Exchange server disk space.

Possible lost emails cost Morgan Stanley $850 million
Coincidentally in the US, billionaire Ronald Perelman, the Revlon cosmetics chief, is suing Morgan Stanley. He claims the investment firm acted fraudulently in the 1998 sale of his Coleman camping gear company to Sunbeam Corporation.

Perelman's legal team demanded Morgan Stanley hand over copies of all relevant e-mails. Morgan Stanley has been unable to prove convincingly to the court that it had handed them over, so Judge Elizabeth Maass told the jury that it should assume Morgan Stanley helped defraud Perelman.

The jury then added on $850 million in punitive damages to the original $604.3 million in compensatory damages, bringing the total penalty to $1.45 billion.

It looks as if it is going to become mandatory for all businesses operating in the US to have a fully indexed e-mail archive of guaranteed integrity. Good news for Mimosa.

NearPoint for Microsoft Exchange is available now, starting at $9,995 (about £5,500).