When Microsoft is slow to fill the functionality gaps in its products, ISVs can win by jumping in. That's what Cortex I.T. hopes to do with its release of BackupAssist 5.2, which includes a plug-in to provide backup of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 on Windows Server 2008. The lack of this backup capability in Server 2008 has been a sore spot for Exchange Server admins.

Exchange admins have been using NTBackup since the earliest days of Exchange, but Windows Server 2008 replaced that utility with Windows Server Backup. Unfortunately, the new tool doesn't support the streaming APIs necessary to make Exchange backups without dismounting the database, which would be a disruption in so many ways. Was this a deliberate oversight on Microsoft's part to get people to use System Center Data Protection Manager? Well, perhaps not, but that's the only Microsoft-produced option to solve the problem so far.

So along comes Cortex I.T. The company is based in Melbourne, Australia, and opened an office in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2008 to provide enhanced service in the North American market. The company's BackupAssist is designed as an easy-to-use solution for backing up Windows server systems, including Exchange Server and SQL Server.

You can schedule BackupAssist to perform a variety of predefined backups or customize the solution to meet your environment's needs. BackupAssist includes a full array of reporting and notification options—also customizable—such as email, network broadcasts, and printouts. You can even have it remind you when it's time to clean the heads on your backup tape drive.

BackupAssist works with a variety of backup mediums—tape, external drives, CD or DVD, and others. BackupAssist includes the ability to back up your Exchange Server Information Store natively, and you can purchase the Exchange Mailbox Add-on to let you perform brick-level backups and restores of individual mail items, calendars, contacts, or whole mailboxes.

With the release this week of BackupAssist 5.2, you can now get Exchange 2007 backups on Server 2008 with Windows Server Backup. The new plug-in calls the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) writer for Exchange to ensure the databases are up-to-date before the backup runs—just what users hoped Microsoft would provide from the beginning.

BackupAssist is aimed at the small-to-midsized business (SMB) market, so enterprises might still need to wait for an appropriate Exchange-aware backup on Server 2008. The product is priced beginning at $249.00 and the Exchange Mailbox Add-on is $129.00—making this appear to be a very affordable option as well. For more information about BackupAssist, visit the company's website.

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