As storage gets cheaper, enterprises small and large accumulate more and more information. Finding the right information at the right time is becoming harder and harder. Information comes from many sources: email, IM, the Web and intranets, employee’s desktops, enterprise systems. Security and compliance are not easy to achieve in this environment. So, what’s the industry doing about this?
Let’s look at some data.
- Symantec bought
- Veritas (July 2005), which bought KVS, an email archiving and discovery company. (Aug 2004) KVS’s technology has been packaged into managed service offerings since 2004 by companies such as AT&T.
- IMLogic, an IM security/archiving company (Jan 2006)
- Iron Mountain, once a boxes-on-trucks-and-in-caves company, bought online backup player Connected (Oct 2004), put its leadership team in charge of Iron Mountain Digital and set out to create the most scalable outsourced digital content discovery and archiving platform.
- Autonomy, one of the key players in enterprise search, bought discovery and archiving vendor Zantaz last week for $375M, which in turn had bought hosted e-discovery vendor Steelpoint. (Aug 2004)
- Yesterday Google announced it will acquire Postini for $625M, a hosted content discovery, security and archiving player.
- Even Tumbleweed wants to buy a hosted email archiving vendor.
Some trends emerge:
- Outsourcing of content archiving, which often means
- Outsourcing of e-discovery, which is why we see
- Search players buying hosted content archiving companies
To move content off-site, hosted backup/archiving providers need to tap into all key enterprise information flows (network, email, storage, desktop, etc.). This allows them to offer value-added services such as content security (DRM, IP theft protection, etc.) as well as implement a number of compliance-related policies. In addition, once content leaves the enterprise, there are many possibilities for additional services around e-discovery, collaboration, data mining, etc. That’s why everybody wants the enterprises’ data.
The biggest challenge to implementing this well is tapping corporate desktops–where most of compliance-related information (emails, docs & spreadsheets, IMs) ultimately originates. (Integrating with servers is easy + there are far fewer of them.) For a solution to truly work and be deployable to employees without requiring costly training and change in work habits it will have to be seamless–practically invisible and non-disruptive to the unstructured workflows of knowledge workers. There are two easy ways to do this. You can build these capabilities inside the office productivity software. Microsoft and the folks at Open Office have the lead there. You can host the productivity apps, which is Google’s long-term strategy for the enterprise. It is a very powerful idea, indeed. Right now, I know of only one solution on the market that can tap into MS Office & Sharepoint environments without disrupting employees. It comes from Meridio, a Belfast-based company I’m on the board of.
Some interesting questions:
- Does IBM have this covered through it’s outsourcing offerings and a myriad of ECM technologies?
- When will Microsoft get into the hosted content services business in a big way? Nearly 1/2 of KVS’s business was on the MS platform…
- How will EMC respond? They have pushed to increase their service offerings (bought Internosis in 2006) and have been integrating search deeper into their storage and ECM product lines. Perhaps they’ll buy Autonomy?
- Will FAST stay focused on search alone?
I find it interesting that all of these vendors are looking to provide outsourced services. Most of the companies that I speak to tell me that they are afraid of putting their confidential content in the hands of third parties. For example, assume for a moment that you get sued. Will the other party send an electronic discovery request to your hosting vendor who will be less concerned about giving up data?
In fairness, I am CEO of an email archicing and electronic discovery vendor.
CEO of InBoxer, Inc.