E-Mail Archiving Steals ECM Spotlight

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Corporate concern about compliance and records retention is driving the market for e-mail archiving applications. Just two years ago, it was modest at best. But according to IDC, the market has exploded six-fold since then, enjoying an estimated $180 million stronghold on enterprise content management (ECM).

Leading e-mail archiving software providers, such as Zantaz, KVS and iLumin, have become so successful, it’s caused some analysts to wonder if a full ECM solution is even necessary.

Noting that a great deal of current data glut comes from e-mail, Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Peter Gerr said the fundamental features of e-mail archiving make it complete enough for some businesses.

The ability to quickly keep files from being deleted or altered, combined with the practice of retrieving e-mail, lowers storage costs and improves an organization’s ability to retain records and protect intellectual property. That’s about all some corporate customers are looking for in terms of content management, Gerr said.

“I believe with ECM, solutions from Documentum, FileNet and Hummingbird may be seen as invasive by some companies. They’re kind of the ERP of the 21st century in that they take years to get right,” Gerr said.

He argued that it is a lot easier to see ROI from e-mail archiving than it is for most companies with an ECM solution. For one, he said, e-mail is universal. For another, “ECM disrupts business processes.”

Meanwhile, the burgeoning e-mail archiving market won’t be stopped, said IDC senior analyst Julie Rahal Marobella, who predicted it would enjoy a compound annual growth rate of more than 50 percent through 2008.

Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA and other regulatory mandates have sparked a good deal of consolidation among rivals looking to milk this new cash cow, triggered in 2003 by EMC’s acquisition of Legato. Analysts expect this trend to continue.

Leaders Are Optimistic

Such endorsements could open new doors for market leaders. While Marobella declined to provide exact market share figures, she did pronounce Zantaz the market leader in terms of revenue for 2003, followed by KVS and iLumin.

Zantaz has an ace in its deck, said CEO Steve King. The company provides two types of e-mail archiving — hosted and on-site software — at a time when most vendors just sell software and tell customers to install it and run it themselves.

“Most of our competitors sell software, and most of the hosted players are hosting it from one of the other providers,” King said. “So our differentiation is not that we have hosting, but that we have both.”

While its purchase of Educom gave Zantaz on-site software, its SteelPoint buy also gave the company a strong presence in discovery software and litigation support. King said this is compelling for customers who need the expertise to not only find files, but fork them over to meet subpoena requests.

Marobella and Gerr agree, but they also believe Zantaz has able competitors in iLumin and KVS, which was acquired
by Veritas. Veritas itself is in the process of being swallowed up by Symantec, further highlighting the consolidation among companies that manage, protect and serve corporate data.

Jeremy Burton, executive vice president of products at Veritas, said KVS was the obvious choice for Veritas among the sea of smaller vendors for two reasons: The company focused on supporting Microsoft Exchange better than anyone, and the product had an “elegant architecture.”

As an example of how respected KVS is in the market, Burton noted that EMC partners with KVS and uses its products in Centera systems despite selling its own Legato brand. “More often than not they’ll bring us into a deal before Legato,” Burton said.

While Burton admits Veritas initially believed e-mail archiving would not take off, KVS’s technology and traction has made a believer out of the company. In the forthcoming KVS Enterprise Vault 6.0 software, Burton said KVS will bundle more business intelligence capabilities and add APIs that plug into a variety of devices.

iLumin, which Gerr and Marobella said have tackled the problem of discovery and compliance head-on, is also promising.

Mike Gundling, iLumin’s senior vice president of product management, said more firms across industries are keeping e-mail for more employees for longer periods of time “so it’s becoming a huge information management challenge for them.”

iLumin aims to hit the sweet part in the market by offering comprehensive e-mail services, covering mail storage management, discovery, compliance and records management.

Moreover, Gundling said “we’re trying not to have religion so we can integrate in an open way with a systems vendor’s storage strategy or content management strategy. We don’t want to be tied too close to one vendor.”

Advice For Archivists

Marobella said industry watchers can expect continued consolidation as competitors look to pad their archiving portfolios with additional discovery or records management utilities.

But because acquirers are purchasing archivists to bolster either their ECM lines or storage management suites, it is impossible to tell what category e-mail archiving will fall into.

“Where is e-mail archiving headed? Will it become more of a part of content management like Documentum or FileNet, or will it be back-up and archive in the storage market like KVS?” Marobella wondered. “It’s something we need to wait and see about. The next year is going to be pretty interesting.”

Regardless, Gerr said e-mail archivists can’t rest on their laurels by selling to financial institutions. Although that space has been vendors’ bread-and-butter to date, that target segment can reap only so much reward before it dries up.

“Over the last 24 months, we’ve seen tactical deployments of enterprise messaging and archiving, but I’m not convinced the surge in the number of new solutions to address the exploding cost of storage is over,” Gerr said. “The regulatory impact of compliance has been felt in other industries.”

Vendors should also focus on expanding their selling scope to the government and health industries, as well as to life sciences and pharmaceutical firms, Gerr said.

One thing Zantaz, KVS and iLumin all agreed on was that creating more APIs that plug into storage devices or ECM systems will give them leverage and help them find placement in the offerings of large systems vendors.

Burton summed up how to approach the market going forward.

“All we can do is keep on top of what the customer wants,” he said. “But it’s a good problem to have because we’ve just scratched the surface of what we can do with that.

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for CIO.com covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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