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E-mail management hits center stage—Part 1

This article appears in the issue March 2005 (100 Companies) [Volume 14, Issue 3]


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As the writer William Faulkner put it, "No man is a failure who is enjoying life." And e-mail management vendors have been enjoying life quite a bit lately.

Regulatory pressures, loosened IT purse strings and the health of the larger enterprise content management (ECM) marketplace have created the perfect environment for e-mail & messaging management (EMM) vendors, and leading players are poised for a breakout year.

In a recent survey by IMERGE Consulting, more than 60% of IT and business professionals named e-mail and messaging as the most critical enterprise application, well above the next choice, database transaction processing (36%).

The technical challenges are significant, though. Imagine this: Large electronic document management systems may handle a few million documents, perhaps even tens of millions. But archiving all e-mails for seven years for an organization of 25,000 employees adds up to 4.5 billion documents. Just as a reference, as of a year ago, Google handled only 4.3 billion documents. So scalability is key.

To bring EMM capabilities to market, ECM and storage management companies have gobbled up several major e-mail management firms, and others have rushed to sign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or reseller agreements. Now that most are there and can handle the basics of e-mail archiving, compliance is the watchword for 2005. And that's a higher bar. Once a violating message is received, it's too late to do anything about it. Or is it?

With MailRecall from Authentica , users can control what happens to an e-mail message after the fact. Organizations establish mail management policies that determine who can read a message, when they can read it and whether they can forward, copy or print the message. MailRecall messages can also have a predetermined expiration date assigned to them that appears alongside the message in the recipient's inbox. If a user decides to recall your message, all copies expire automatically--whether they are located on sender and recipient desktops, servers or even backup media. Some challenging records management issues arise with that new capability.

To achieve compliance on an even more proactive basis, leading-edge EMM vendors are offering e-mail message "pre-review," a utility that scans e-mail messages before they actually are sent, in a compliance staging process. After Sarbanes-Oxley and other tightened regulations, and with trial verdicts being tipped by e-mail content, managers are being held to higher standards of conduct. The importance of EMM is no longer debatable. The priority of features and how the systems are implemented, however, are hotly contested topics.

The debate breaks down into several software provider camps, and their architecture reflects their strategy: hosted solutions vs. in-house, storage optimization vs. content-centric approaches, collaboration vs. archiving. Of course, there are vendors that sit somewhere in the middle of those basic approaches. Pricing across the board is highly negotiable but usually seat-based.

Vendors offering hosted alternatives like Zantaz , iLumin and Critical Technologies argue that they can take the load off an IT department for managing millions--even billions--of messages. Providers that offer in-house solutions, such as ZipLip, maintain that the only way to achieve complete compliance in highly regulated industries like financial services and healthcare is to have software running in-house, on not only the internal mail server, but also the gateway.

"Hosted solutions may be fine for the general, commercial marketplace, but when financial services firms have to comply with strict SEC and NASD regulations, broad-brush hosted solutions just won't do," says Kon Leong, CEO of ZipLip.

Those with an architectural heritage in the hierarchical storage management (HSM) sector like EMC and Zantaz present an approach that optimizes storage performance and costs by moving saved messages from online magnetic media through a series of more permanent media alternatives according to a file plan based on aging of documents.

Solution providers that are feature-rich with collaboration tools, such as Hummingbird and Interwoven, concentrate more on the front-end interaction between work teams with e-mail as the common communication medium.

Offerings like FileNet's eMail Capture 5.0, a product OEM'd from Yaletown Technology Group, even go beyond a basic content-oriented approach and capture the actual underlying business processes when e-mails are intertwined with enterprise applications like customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource management (ERM). As a whole, vendors are moving further to address records requirements by integrating their EMM software with a bona fide records management application (RMA).

Some vendors like ZipLip are pure-play EMM providers, and ECM providers like Hummingbird, Interwoven, FileNet, Open Text and ClearStory Systems offer EMM functionality as a part of a suite of integrated ECM products.

Another way to slice the market is by platform support: Most all support Microsoft Exchange, and some, such as Zantaz, KVS/Veritas (kvs.com, veritas.com), ClearStory and Captaris/IMR (captaris.com, imrgold.com) support the MS Exchange mail server platform exclusively. Many others, including Open Text and IBM also support IBM Lotus Notes. Several, including ZipLip, support Exchange and Notes and also support Novell GroupWise, but iLumin additionally supports Oracle Collaboration Suite and Bloomberg Mail, a staple in the financial brokerage industry). EMC also supports Bloomberg, Exchange and Notes, but not GroupWise or Oracle.

A review of the products, services and market position of leading players in the EMM market follows:

Captaris/IMR

Captaris announced the acquisition of Denver-based IMR in October 2004. IMR's Alchemy MailStore solves the problems of e-mail regulatory compliance and records retention by capturing e-mail from Exchange or Outlook in a secure repository, so it can be selectively stored and managed as a record, and retrieved at any time. MailStore can be used for Exchange by itself or combined with the MailStore for Outlook.

MailStore features out-of-the-box integration with Exchange 2000/2003 and Outlook 2000/2003, so set-up is fast--often in under one hour--and there are no third-party software requirements.

MailStore for Exchange has rules-based policies to control which e-mail is automatically archived, making it easy to meet regulatory guidelines for e-mail record keeping. Rules can be set for individual mailboxes and include e-mail address or domain, sender and recipient, and even the content of the subject line. MailStore is simple to implement, giving users one-click access to e-mail archives with no complex interfaces to master. The software does not utilize an HSM methodology but can write to hard disk, CD or DVD, WORM, optical libraries and more, capturing e-mails and attachments, whether they are documents or images. Users can create standalone CD or DVD versions with selected e-mails to satisfy auditing or legal discovery demands.

MailStore uses full-text indexing to search the message text, and even the contents of the attachments. Data compression and a robust search engine help to find e-mails fast. Users can even view any of the archived e-mail records and attachments without the original application, which is important over the long term, as applications and standards evolve.

In MailStore for Exchange, rules can include or exclude e-mail based on selected domains, addresses, duplicate messages and even subject line content, allowing for real-time message capture and processing. Archive functions, such as setting recurring indexing schedules and message cleanup, can also be automated.

With MailStore for Outlook, individual e-mail users can selectively save and retrieve messages and attachments. Archive and retrieval is a simple, one-click operation from within Outlook. Messages, including Outlook personal archives (pst files) can be placed into either a central or separate repository, and also integrated with other related files.

ClearStory Systems

"We see ECM as more of a vision, a framework under which to provide content services," says Susan Worthy, VP of marketing at ClearStory. "We're positioned to go after high-value assets, specifically rich media and other digital assets, with our DAM acquisition and product integration efforts over the past year."

In 2004, ClearStory acquired WebWare, a digital asset management (DAM) provider, and changed its name from INSCI to ClearStory Systems. The company has been fundamentally re-positioned as a total ECM solutions provider under the aggressive management of President & CEO Hank Nelson. INSCI had a strong track record in managing high volumes of report data and business documents in its enterprise report management (ERM) and online presentment product, and it is now leveraging that high-volume experience in the e-mail management applications market.

ClearStory has just released a new EMM product as a part of its ECM suite, a next-generation product from the e-mail archiving solution it launched a couple of years ago. It also recently launched Enterprise Media Server, using a pure J2EE multilayer architecture, and is working with two beta customers in developing content management capabilities specifically around video.

"Imagine the value of managing content applications like video production and distribution solutions for major motion picture studios," Nelson says. ClearStory appears to be shooting to leapfrog past traditional ECM market leaders with its Enterprise Media Server initiative.

As with others, ClearStory's automated content life cycle management allows e-mail correspondence to be captured, indexed, preserved and ultimately destroyed through policy-based retention rules. In the case of audit or legal discovery, related e-mail can be instantly retrieved for rapid response. Growing e-mail stores are handled with storage management functionality, including hierarchical storage management (HSM) and support for EMC Centera and other file-based storage paradigms. MailManager helps businesses with proactive risk mitigation through automated routing and review of non-compliant e-mail. It supports Microsoft Exchange only and is completely integrated with Outlook for search, retrieval and review.

Using a journaling paradigm (vs. running software at the gateway), MailManager is a fully automated solution, capturing all inbound, outbound and internal e-mail. Messages are automatically categorized based on message content, attachment content and header information. Preserved in their native format, messages are easily retrieved. Attachment and duplicate management avoids unnecessary redundant storage, and support for HSM offers cost-effective automated storage migration.

Critical Technologies

Primarily marketed as a hosted solution, Critical Technologies' iMagio platform is tightly integrated into the client user interface, and securely storing e-mail is a one-click process. Through the iMagio toolbar interface, a user may store one or more e-mail messages by simply highlighting the message and pressing the "store" icon on the toolbar. Messages and their attachments will be sent to the secure iMagio repository for archival. The user will be prompted to provide metadata index values or may simply store for search on keywords.

E-mail messages sent to iMagio are stored in text format or as an MSG file, depending on the e-mail client. Attachments are saved with the same metadata as the e-mail message, and header, body and frame information is kept in its original format along with the original distribution group.

All e-mail messages and attachments are full content searchable. When a message is retrieved, the message along with associated attachments is displayed in the iMagio search results list.

The iMagio system employs a repository structure that allows e-mails to be stored in multiple repositories. That comes into play when, for example, it may be necessary to store an e-mail in five separate repositories with each repository having specific access rights. All current and historical usage and modification of data is available to appropriate parties in both a real-time, browser-based dashboard and through complete system logging. To maintain data integrity, iMagio does not allow changes to the original copy of an archived e-mail message. iMagio logs all "changes" and document "touches" automatically through its auditing functions. Changes are allowed by "overlays" (annotations), but the original is never modified.

Compliance-oriented features include: extensive auditing and logging of activity; high-level, point-to-point encryption; extensive user and user group security settings; redaction (blocking certain fields from view) and modification restrictions with seven levels of security; and extensive physical and technical access restrictions to database.

EMC/Legato

EMC has been gobbling up major ECM providers and other storage-intensive application providers at a breakneck pace. After acquiring Documentum, an industry pioneer and leader in the electronic document management market, EMC also acquired Legato, formerly Optical Technology Group, in 2004. Legato had its founding roots in the optical jukebox driver segment of the document imaging and document management marketplace. With that acquisition, EMC became a formidable player in the EMM market, but at the same time it created some opportunity for channel conflict with its already established alliances with EMM providers.

The E-mailXtender product set is a policy-based, centralized data storage and retrieval system that automatically collects, organizes, retains and retrieves e-mail messages an attachments. E-mails and attachments are automatically copied into an Enterprise Message Center where a full-text index of all messages and attachments is generated, which allows compliance officers or administrators to conduct intelligent search and retrieval. The E-mailXtender family supports MS Exchange/Outlook, Lotus Notes, Bloomberg Mail and Unix Sendmail.

E-mailXtender Archive Edition is a subset of E-mailXtender that provides a solution for e-mail storage management (in MS Exchange and Lotus Notes/Domino environments). It delivers scheduled-based archiving, allowing organizations to offload and archive e-mail messages from e-mail servers. It frees up space and improves overall system availability by integrating with Legato DiskXtender to provide scalability and automatic migration of the message archive to secondary storage in an HSM methodology.

E-mailXaminer monitors e-mail content to ensure compliance with government regulations and corporate policies. E-mailXaminer is also a data storage and retrieval system that assists in e-mail use and administration.

FileNet

FileNet eMail Capture takes a content-centric approach to e-mail management. It integrates with both Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes mail server platforms. It also includes full support for the industry-leading ECM platform, FileNet P8.

The eMail Capture server acts as a mediator between corporate e-mail systems and the FileNet P8 system. E-mail messages may be declared formal records in the capture process, eliminating the need for a separate step and minimizing the possibility of user error in that critical process. The latest release, 5.0, has just become available. Capture of e-mail messages and attachments may be automated based on an advanced rules engine that supports regular expressions, lists and calculated values, so that complex business rules may be assembled and targeted to map to specific business processes. That allows users to search through not only e-mail threads and attachments, but also the underlying business processes they are associated with in major applications like CRM and ERP systems.

Message "stubs" can be just a marker or set to let users preview a limited amount of the text in the body of a message. Either way serves for index links that can appear in user mailboxes rather than the full e-mail message threads. That reduces the size of captured messages in the user's inbox, yet keeps retrieval fast and easy.

FileNet eMail Capture also includes a MS Exchange Crawler that utilizes specific organization-defined business rules to capture e-mail and to facilitate moving messages from MS Exchange servers into the FileNet ECM repository

Hummingbird

"Hummingbird was first to market with a unified repository for managing documents and records throughout their life cycle. Our key advantages are tight integration with records management--we've been doing it for five years now--with built-in advanced search capabilities and our out-of the-box functionality, all of which add up to lower cost of ownership," says Andrew Pery, senior VP and chief marketing officer of Hummingbird.

Michele Kersey, senior product marketing manager, adds, "Some of our competitors will claim feature parity with Hummingbird, but they would need to add native functionality currently offered via third parties, and customers would have to spend money on custom programming to get what we deliver." However, Hummingbird itself depends on third-party vendors in its EMM strategy. It focuses more on the front-end e-mail management and collaboration functions, and then partners with companies like EMC and Symantec/Veritas/KVS for back-end archival functionality. Pery says, "In this consolidating market, I believe you'll see more and more ‘co-opetition' between firms."

Hummingbird Enterprise 2004, an ECM suite, offers fully integrated and comprehensive records management capabilities that provide an organized, secure environment to manage the life cycle of all physical and electronic corporate knowledge assets, including e-mail. Compliance officers and records administrators can effectively implement a corporate file plan and retention and disposition rules associated with e-mail messages.

Hummingbird Enterprise 2004 e-mail management capabilities are integrated with MS Outlook, Lotus Notes and Novell (novell.com) GroupWise. The software features automatic inheritance of e-mail metadata into the Hummingbird Enterprise 2004 profile form, and e-mail is stored alongside other relevant enterprise content. It offers duplicate checking and message thread tracking, and e-mail can be stored in a ‘read-only' state to comply with corporate records policies. A rules engine applies automated rules-based classification of e-mail messages and attachments.

E-mail messages are profiled into the Hummingbird Enterprise 2004 content repository directly from the Microsoft Outlook client. E-mail metadata (e.g. sender, recipient, subject and additional custom fields) is automatically inherited and managed as part of a scalable and secure enterprise content repository. Administrators are empowered to define rules by which e-mail messages, threaded discussions and e-mail attachments are to be profiled and related to appropriate folders and other documents within the Hummingbird Enterprise 2004 content repository.

Administrators can implement extensive security features that defend against unauthorized access at folder, document, group, user and file plan levels. Specific rules may be defined for e-mail retention policies that significantly reduce IT system and software infrastructure costs, because only one copy of the e-mail message needs to be maintained in the enterprise content repository. Having a centralized process for the preservation of vital e-mail records also reduces costs associated with legal discovery. Managing the e-mail life cycle in tandem with enterprise content and records reduces exposure to regulatory scrutiny and civil and criminal penalties.

Hummingbird Enterprise 2004 provides an advanced, automated means to capture, process and classify e-mail to more effectively manage volumes of messages and attachments. Using a rules-driven graphical wizard, similar to Microsoft Outlook, administrators can define and automate the process of classifying both inbound and outbound e-mail messages and their attachments into predefined folders or subfolders. The automated e-mail classification based on predetermined rules does not require additional overhead, because it is fully integrated with Microsoft Exchange and deployed on the same server.

The second part of this article will focus on the following vendors: IBM, iLumun, Interwoven/iManage, Open Text/IXOS, Symantec/Veritas/KVS, Zantaz and ZipLip.


Robert Smallwood is a partner with IMERGE Consulting and may be reached at robert.smallwood@imergeconsult.com.


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