Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Barry Murphy. Published: 2010-01-30 13:01:03  

Much to my surprise, there are many who believe that the email archiving market is dying fast.  As evidence, they point to:

  • The introduction of Microsoft Exchange 2010 with native archiving capabilities
  • The struggles of pure-play archiving vendors to compete with larger vendors like Symantec and the aforementioned Exchange 2010
  • The substitution of collection appliances and/or search tools to help with eDiscovery vis-à-vis email (e.g. why do I need a $500K email archiving implementation when I can use a collection appliance that costs $80K?)
  • The continued commoditization of storage and perception that “storage is cheap”

Good evidence and some salient points, but not proof that the email archiving market is dying.  Email archiving still provides positive business results – just not the results that most organizations were hoping for when they spent upwards of $1 million on large implementations.  Thus, email archiving began to get a bad rap because so few vendors could produce good customer references for large production deployments.

But, it’s important to not assign all blame to vendors (not to let them off the hook completely, as many have put out mediocre applications).  Most organizations that are unhappy with archiving deployments point to scalability, lack of true storage cost savings, and problems with backup routines.  These are problems that are mostly caused by the organizations themselves, not the software packages.  Most organizations don’t have good retention policies written and implemented, so they keep email way too long – this hurts the scalability of the system and eliminates the potential for storage cost savings.  In addition, these organizations insist on stubbing to maintain offline access to email in the Outlook client – it’s nice to have that access, but stubs create more problems than they are worth and can interrupt backup routines.  Frankly, there are better ways to manage the user experience than stubbing.  The one area that customers (at least IT customers) are generally happy with email archiving solutions is eDiscovery.  The search capability makes collection fairly quick and often takes IT out of the line of legal fire (because legal can run the search on their own).

As customers mature, it will be possible to reap more of the benefits that archiving can deliver – moving information off production servers to save storage costs and reduce backup windows, better managing the lifecycle of information in order to reduce storage costs, and making eDiscovery and legal hold of email more effective and efficient.  No, the email archiving market is not dying, but the dynamics of the market are changing, which may explain why some of the vendors within it are struggling.

First, archiving now extends beyond email; while most organizations start with email archiving to get this high-volume content under control, it is critical that an archiving platform also handle file system content and emerging repositories like SharePoint.  For smaller software vendors to offer compelling products for all these content types is very difficult.

Second, it’s very difficult for archiving to produce the storage cost savings that is often promised during the sales cycle.  For one thing, organizations need to tightly manage their information lifecycle and be willing to actually get rid of information and prevent users from practicing underground archiving (which just shifts storage costs elsewhere and creates huge eDiscovery risks).  And, while the assumption is that storage is cheap – it still costs money and requires power and cooling.  Why else would all the storage giants be investing so heavily in cloud computing?  There are economies of scale in the cloud and there is great promise in hybrid on-premise / cloud archiving solutions.  While pure-play on-premise archiving vendors rush to partner with cloud archiving vendors, the software giants look to build out their software and cloud archiving strategies with synergy.

Additionally, the arrival of Exchange 2010 to the market does put pressure on third party archiving vendors to provide additional bang for the buck.  For some organizations, Exchange 2010’s native archiving capabilities will be enough.  However, for those that require offline access to the archive for users, tiered storage support, or advanced eDiscovery capabilities, a third party archiving solution will likely make more sense.  The implication is that archiving providers will need to work hard to stay a step ahead of Microsoft (hmm…we saw this before with content management and SharePoint).

No, the email archiving market is not dead – it’s as alive as ever, just with different dynamics.  Some of the smaller vendors will fail and the larger vendors will continue to struggle to get good customer references for large deployments.  But, we will continue to see more and more hybrid on-premise / cloud solutions and more content sources being archived into consolidated archives (e.g. email, file systems, and SharePoint).  Time for even more heat in this software segment.

0 0 votes
Article Rating