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E-mail archiving and management, Part 2: From niche to core component

In the e-mail management marketplace (EMM), a shootout is being waged among a plethora of distinct approaches. Leading infrastructure providers, like Computer Associates (CA) and IBM, are offering information life cycle solutions that include EMM. Enterprise content management (ECM) providers, like FileNet, Hyland Software and Hummingbird, are acquiring or developing EMM capabilities to scale up to manage larger content volumes. And ECM vendors like Stellent are leveraging strategic partnerships to provide EMM.

Application service providers (ASPs), like Fortiva and GlobalRelay, are offering hosted EMM capabilities. Disk management (EMC) and e-mail hygiene vendors (like MessageGate, and Symantec), are extending capabilities into EMM. And then there are the pure-play EMM players like Zantaz and ZipLip. How this dynamic market shakes out will be much clearer in a couple of years, but at this point, users are bombarded with a variety of technologies and architectures to choose from.

GlobalRelay's e-mail & instant messaging (IM) archiving services claim to offer the fastest search, retrieval and monitoring capabilities in the world. GlobalRelay offers hosted e-mail and IM archiving and perimeter security technology through its data centers. Its offerings provide businesses with secure offsite storage and backup while addressing compliance, privacy, security, business continuity, corporate governance, audit and litigation requirements.

GlobalRelay purports to have provided outsourced message archiving solutions without a single incident of data loss in more than six years. The company will customize a technology service solution to meet unique needs and can support a multinational enterprise with geographically dispersed servers, including multilingual requirements. The company focuses on certain key business segments that have high compliance requirements: public companies; health care; law firms and legal applications; and architecture, engineering and construction.

At Hummingbird, Michele Kersey, industry manager, Commercial Sector, sees some clear trends that have developed in the past year or so. "We've seen the IT and RM [records management] professionals demanding that e-mail archiving and enterprise content management solutions be seamlessly integrated for a complete life cycle solution," Kersey says. "In the past, competing approaches have been pursued by IT and RM practitioners. IT professionals consider the job done with e-mail archiving, but such storage solutions omit critical records retention and disposition measures and do not address legal holds during discovery and litigation. The tide is changing such that IT and RM professionals are in the current together, better addressing overall organizational requirements and broadening the benefits of a synchronized strategy."

Hummingbird focuses on front-end collaboration and RM declaration and classification capabilities, and partners with e-mail archiving solutions such as Symantec's Enterprise Vault to gain the benefits of content and storage solutions. 

Hyland Software is an ECM vendor positioned to attack mid-market enterprises, which are by definition less demanding, perhaps explaining Hyland's relatively late and low-end entry into the marketplace in November 2005. According to Ken Burns, analyst relations manager, "Our entry reflects our market focus and makes sense for our customers. Once we listened, we provided a basic capability to satisfy fundamental compliance and storage needs."

The new capability is designed on top of a different database structure (vs. the company's OnBase ECM product) that can scale to handle the large volumes that e-mail management demands. "It's a flat database with maybe 40 tales that allows for quick retrieval," says Coleen Alber, product evangelist. Hyland is piloting its approach at a handful of customer sites. 

IBM provides a similar holistic ECM approach to e-mail management including records management capabilities, but with a heavier emphasis on integrated backend storage management. "The thing to emphasize is that the IBM solution uses an ECM bus architecture, and e-mail management is just another module that can be plugged in. The data is stored in one place and doesn't (need to) move," stated Wayne Yung, content IT specialist for IBM. "Our EMM technology is based on an ECM approach; we're not an ECM vendor that just bought an e-mail archive vendor to gain that capability."

Proving that software alliances make for strange bedfellows, IBM bolsters its e-mail filtering and management capabilities by partnering with iLumin, recently acquired by key IBM competitor CA. On the storage back end, IBM integrates with its own storage management solutions, including Tivoli Storage Manager. IBM's CommonStore, its service-oriented architecture-based (SOA) e-mail management module, was upgraded last year with IBM's ContentManager Version 8.3 refresh. Improvements include integration with IBM's Records Manager, more efficient single-instance storage, component archiving (separating the attachments when needed) and annotation support, which allows for graphical or text-based annotations stored separately as an overlay with e-mail messages, which can be searched through DB2 NetSearch Extender.

Open Text's EMM customers include UBS, Merck, Aventis, the U.S. Treasury and Hitachi Data Systems. It has worked to tighten integration between its records management and archiving products, and, as a result, its software can identify an appropriate storage device for an e-mail or other record based on its classification, and ensure that upon classification it is immediately stored on the appropriate hardware. For example, as soon as an e-mail is classified as SEC 17a-4 relevant, Open Text automates the process of storing that e-mail on the required WORM device in an organization's mixed storage environment. Its e-mail and archiving release this spring will build on those capabilities.

Open Text reports its advantages include managing, archiving and applying uniform records management rules to content in multiple systems--e-mail, SAP systems, etc. To meet the need for rigorous classification of records, Open Text has partnered with Trusted Edge to extend its RM Edge product suite into Open Text offerings. Through that integration, users can be required to classify business records as they are created. Every time a particular user sends or receives an e-mail, a popup window can be initiated that requires the user to select the appropriate classification. Open Text can extend that same level of control into other desktop applications, such as Microsoft Word and Excel--as soon as a user attempts to save a document, he or she is prompted to classify it appropriately. For litigation support, Open Text has partnered with specialist TCDI so that when business records become evidence, the technology is in place to ensure everything goes smoothly in the server room and the courtroom.

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