IBM made a commitment to the unstructured Big Data management challenge last month, announcing its intent to acquire StoredIQ (SIQ). The price of the acquisition was not disclosed. Nowhere is the unstructured Big Data challenge more pronounced than in eDiscovery and information governance (IG) projects. The addition of SIQ does give IBM a valuable component to be able to apply policy to new content sources (fileshares, etc.) in-place and do pre-collection analysis for eDiscovery in-place.
While IBM traditionally competes against the likes of large vendors like EMC, HP/Autonomy, and Symantec, I have to believe that at least part of the driver for this acquisition is competitive pressure from some of the up-and-coming vendors like Index Engines and Nuix. Both of which are gaining momentum with defensible deletion messages and are fairly lightweight and relatively quick to deploy.
One of the major pieces of the IBM IG (or as IBM calls it, Information Lifecycle Governance) portfolio is a policy syndication engine to distribute reconciled policies to various data sources. SIQ will be the application that applies policies to information stored in fileshares, SharePoint, desktops, social media, and Cloud information sources. This gives IBM broad coverage of important information sources for governance and storage management purposes.
However, we do wonder if that will create IT challenges. The Legal / IG folks can create the policy and then the repository owners in IT will need to make sure that the policy gets to their repository and effectively works. It feels like there could be lot of pieces to put together within the IBM portfolio for this to work and it could make for complex IT management. In addition, there will be multiple applications to manage to ensure that policies are federated out to all information sources. Given that IG maturity is just beginning to grow, we wonder if many companies will have the wherewithal to put these pieces together. That said, IBM at least offers a centralized way of managing policies across the enterprise and provides frameworks and processes for executing those policies. That can make policy application more manageable (especially compared to distributed systems where policy needs to be managed at the end points).
In the announcement of the acquisition, IBM did not address what will happen with other collection tools in the portfolio (e.g IBM Content Collector family of tools) with which there will be some clear overlap (there is the Content Collector for FileSystems, for example). Our assumption is that SIQ will replace some of the older tools because it is a lighter weight application. Customers utilizing Content Collector (at least for sources that SIQ will manage like file systems and SharePoint) will want to ask IBM about plans for support going forward and any kinds of migration paths to SIQ.
IBM is now well positioned to compete with its large rivals like EMC (which owns Kazeon-eDiscovery) in broader IG initiatives. Companies like Index Engines and Nuix should also be able to compete well, though, because the prospect base for eDiscovery and IG solutions is still relatively immature and may see the IBM portfolio as overwhelming (whether or not they are looking at the whole portfolio). Or, companies may not be IBM shops for data infrastructure like storage or collaboration or content management and not as inclined to look at IBM products.