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E-MAIL management comes of age

Just when knowledge workers thought IT might be getting a handle on managing burgeoning e-mail, instant messaging (IM) and other content, the goal line keeps moving. There is not only an ever-expanding amount of content, but also it is coming from a greater variety of sources, and new requirements for capture and classification of live content are arising from regulation, litigation and governance demands.

“There’s an explosion of content from blogs, wikis, Web meetings, voice over IP, collaboration systems, e-mail and IM, and it’s causing chaos in the enterprise,” says T.M. Ravi, president and CEO of Mimosa Systems. “The bigger problem is not simply storage, but that this content is fragmented in various repositories, causing higher storage and access costs. Then you have increased security, legal and compliance issues on top of it all.”

E-mail management (EMM) has rapidly evolved from simple archiving of IMs, e-mails and attachments to a compliance and records solution that lies at the nexus of e-mail archiving, enterprise content management, electronic records management and e-discovery.

Those demands have IT managers running into the arms of new technology content management firms like Mimosa, which provides a suite for capture and archiving of live content. Mimosa has experienced rapid growth—to 130-plus employees since shipping its first software license less than two years ago. The company has added nearly 100 new customers in the past year and counts a 56,000-seat installation at Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), as well as Sears and AAA as major customers.

Vendors competing in the EMM marketplace offer both hosted and in-house alternatives. Some of the larger and more active players range from A to Z and include AXS-One, Zantaz, ZipLip and ZyLAB, as well as Fortiva, MessageSolution, Postini and Sherpa Software. ECM vendors like Open Text, Hyland and Stellent (recently acquired by Oracle), IBM and Optical Image Technology have offerings too.

But the established leaders in this marketplace are certainly Symantec and EMC, both of which have strong roots in e-mail archiving and storage management. According to Art Gilliand, senior director of product marketing at Symantec, its Enterprise Vault product (obtained in the Veritas acquisition, and previously from U.K.-based KVS) has over 4,500 customers and manages more than 8 million e-mail mailboxes. Pressures in the marketplace for the capture of live content have caused Symantec to broaden its product mix with Information Foundation 2007, which connects to
Enterprise Vault.

EMC, Symantec’s challenger in the EMM marketplace, has about half as many organizations using its E-mailXtender family of products vs. Symantec’s Enterprise Vault, according to Stewart Noyce, senior manager of product marketing at EMC. Noyce has noted some key trends over the past year. “Initially, organizations looked for storage savings and optimization. Increasingly, they are demanding journaling of content, records management and e-discovery capabilities,” he says.

Which brings us to the hammer that’s driving growth in the EMM marketplace: the new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), which went into effect in December 2006. There’s nothing like a new governmental mandate to heat up an already exploding marketplace! Just when large firms have gotten their arms around SOX and HIPAA, a new requirement enters the picture to further fuel the need for EMM software.

“Firms knew it was coming so they stepped up implementations over the past year,” Noyce adds.

The new amendments to the FRCP address cost and format issues for the production of electronically generated information during the discovery process. But more important, they require that firms establish and follow policies for the preservation (and destruction) of e-mail and other electronically generated information—and to be able to prove they do. They must be able to instantly put a “litigation hold” on electronic information once they can “reasonably anticipate” litigation, to ensure that it is preserved adequately as the discovery process proceeds.

But there’s something entirely new that has hit the marketplace, causing records managers to scurry. Just when the courts try to formulate rules for electronically created evidence, a new technology has broken into the marketplace for “recordless” e-mail, which goes beyond simple e-mail encryption and wipes clean any trace of an e-mail exchange—forever.
Vaporware from NY-based Void Communications (vaporstream.com) uses a new technology to stream encrypted e-mail, called VaporStream. Once a message is read, it disappears without a trace.

“It really comes down to having the ability to collaborate with confidentiality. It’s a First Amendment right,” says CEO Joe Collins Jr.

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