Introducing Mirapoint's Latest Messaging Product, the M2000

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Jan 22, 2001


ServerWatch recently had the opportunity to speak with Pete Sonsini, director of product management for Mirapoint, about the company''s M2000 Internet Message Server. The M2000 was released in mid-December, and joins Mirapoint''s two other messaging products, the M200 and the MR200.

The M2000 is a carrier-scale messaging server targeted at service providers and large companies that operate an environment where service uptime is crucial. It is a combination hardware-software appliance that enables users to access messages from whatever device they are using at the time.

ServerWatch recently had the opportunity to speak with Pete Sonsini, director of product management for Mirapoint, about the company's M2000 Internet Message Server. The M2000 was released in mid-December, and joins Mirapoint's two other messaging products, the M200 and the MR200.

The product fits with Mirapoint''s vision of providing highly secure and highly scalable messaging solutions, believing that "it''s easier to scale using a dedicated device than to hire people to go in and customize the product [every time conditions change]," Sonsini told ServerWatch.

Sonsini noted that server failures have two primary causes: software bugs and user error. A machine that is responsible for only one function is easier to administer and troubleshoot when such problems occur. Other advantages to a single-purpose product include quick and easy deployment, enhanced security, and performance that can be specifically tuned for each component -- all of which result in a reduced total cost of ownership.

The M2000 works with all of the accepted Internet standards. As these standards are integrated into the majority of mail applications, the mail application itself is inconsequential to the M2000. So from an end-user perspective, very little changes.

Mirapoint''s Approach to High Reliability and Security

Mirapoint is presenting the M2000 cluster as the "world''s first and only messaging appliance designed expressly for carrier grade services," Sonsini said. Thus, it has the high reliability required of an enterprise-level product. Its fault tolerance ensures system-level fault protection and redundant system components, while its end-to-end security provides protection from external hackers and internal manipulation. The M2000 is being touted as Mirapoint''s highest performing system. It has a 600 MHz Pentium III processor, Fibre Channel RAID storage, and can store up to 580 GB of messages. Assuming that messages use the IMAP protocol and stay on the server, the M2000 can support up to 250,000 mailboxes and 3,500 simultaneous users.

One way that the M2000 achieves its high availability is by having a standby server in a separate physical box that is prepared to take over should the active server, Fibre Channel loop, or LAN adapter box fail. The Fibre Channel drives provide storage that is shared between the active and standby servers so all data is duplicated. The active server holds the IP address, while the standby server remains in a partially booted state without an IP address. The active server sends a continuous heartbeat block to the disk drive. The standby server checks the heartbeat to verify the active server''s online status. Should the standby server not see a response, it sends a message to the active server to reboot, assumes the active server''s IP address and disk drives, and becomes the active server.

Mirapoint''s architecture, as illustrated in the figure below, is unique. It follows a hybrid approach, acting as both a database and file system, Sonsini said. Mirapoint currently has a patent pending on the technology it has developed for MessageBase, the heart of the M2000''s architecture. It basically follows a "global open access strategy" by "figuring out which protocol the end user needs and sending the message in that protocol," Sonsini said. So if a user is communicating using WAP, MessageBase will translate the message into WAP at the server level rather than sending it through two translations.

Mirapoint''s Software Architecture
Source: Mirapoint

Mirapoint includes a whole host of system protection features with the M2000. To eliminate backdoor entry, it does not allow system-level log in. It also logs all administrative operations and has denial of service protection.

Another attractive aspect of the M2000 is its strong virus and spam-screening capabilities. The messaging server scans for both on the router level, Sonsini said. The M2000 can also be configured to scan on the server level, if the enterprise prefers to do it that way, he added. Antivirus protection includes real-time virus detection, an ICSA-certified antivirus engine, automated pattern file updates, and inbound and outbound SMTP traffic "cleansing." Its antispam capabilities include: adjustable, filtering rules for deleting, rerouting, or bouncing messages on a user, domain, or global basis; RBL lookups; and a rejection of fake DNS messages.

Mirapoint''s Background

The M2000 has been available since mid-December. Mirapoint has already found several hundred customers for it. The product is priced at $23,000 for one system, but purchasing extra storage space and other features to customize the M2000 could bring the price as high as $150,000.

Mirapoint was founded in 1997 and shipped its first product in December 1998. It has 150 employees throughout the world, and its executive team hails from Fortune 500 companies like Intel, Lucent, and Sun Microsystems. Its current client base is comprised 60 percent by service providers and 40 percent by enterprises, Sonsini said.

Other products from Mirapoint include the M200 and the MR200. The M200 is similar to the M2000 in concept but lacks the capacity, scalability, and performance of its more robust sibling, Sonsini said. The MR200 is a switching product designed to manage switching bottlenecks. Both products are compatible with the M2000 and can be used to help it scale up.



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