British SQL Server tool developer Red Gate Software is set to launch an easy-to-use Exchange archiving solution in May that costs just €25/£20 per mailbox.

Although the email archive market contains a piranha pool of competitors, the Cambridge-based company says that the simplicity and usability of its new Exchange Server Archiver solution will make it a compelling choice.

"We’ve had a very, very close look at our many competitors and we have a list of over fifty companies that all claim to do email archiving," says Red Gate's Michael Francis. "Loads of them said that they had a seamless end-user experience but when we had a look, the end-user had to click links, they had to do two separate searches and we just thought this is ridiculous. Whereas with what we do, the end-user has an instant message preview, as normal, instant message retrieval and an integrated search of archived and non-archived emails in just one go."

The end-user won’t notice anything apart from a slight change to the icons in their inbox, according to Francis, meaning admins won't be swamped by calls from users demanding to know why their Outlook interface has changed.

"We removed the need for people to write to PST files which can corrupt or can get lost or they can be on their laptop that gets stolen," he says. "So it is very good for keeping control of your email environment. "

Exchange Server Archiver is aimed squarely at the data management needs of Exchange administrators although the software can also help with compliance issues. If it can gain the same kind of mindshare as Red Gate's wildly popular SQL Toolbelt, the product will become a player in what could be a 6 billion dollar worldwide market by 2011, according to some analysts.

Red Gate's solution uses native Windows technology such as indexing services and direct integration with Active Directory. It does not rely on journaling which creates two copies of everything within Exchange – in itself a data management headache. No software is installed on Exchange Server unless web access is required and no information is stored in Active Directory. Exchange Server Archiver can aid disaster recovery scenarios, supports Exchange Server 2003 and 2007 and will integrate with Exchange 14 as and when Redmond makes it fully available.

At €25 per mailbox, price is certainly a factor. "It’s very granular and transparent," says Francis. "So if you wanted to buy 103 mailboxes, you could buy 103. You wouldn’t have to buy blocks of 20."

He says that another differentiator is that Red Gate's tool will be simple to both try and install: "Some of our competitors require you to buy in consultancy to come and install it all for you whereas with ours you can just download a trial from the website, pay for it using the website and then install it very quickly and easily in a couple of hours, if that."

For further lowdown on Exchange Server Archiver, you can read some pre-release case studies and check out a video gallery demonstrating its abilities at the Red Gate website.