Gaps seen in file archiving tools

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The current file archiving vendor landscape is a mix of content and document solution providers, traditional backup and archiving competitors, and a slew of new ediscovery and policy management tools. Many vendors specializing in active email archiving have expanded into file and document archiving, and they're now vying to help storage managers safely and economically search and save files such as crucial email attachments, 100-page vendor contracts and 6MB PowerPoint presentations.

Whether you're storing images or text files, you're likely storing more files than ever and anticipating more demands to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley and corporate legal requirements. If you have more than one policy and system for archiving, you aren't alone.

"A lot of enterprises, at this point, have a wide variety of archiving systems," says Guy Creese, VP and research director of the collaboration and content strategies service at Burton Group, Midvale, UT. "And one of the quandaries for companies is that they have to enter a different policy in all the systems."

So is anyone offering a great all-in-one file archiving solution yet? "No," says Creese. "I don't think, at this point, there is any one vendor who's able to say they'll archive all your data, no matter which vendor it comes from or which repository it belongs in." But some recent developments are encouraging, he says. Oracle, which acquired content manager Stellent two years back, announced its Universal Online Archive for multiple types of unstructured content two months ago, entering the email archiving market. "Oracle is getting close. They're headed in the right direction," says Creese. There's no word on when the product will ship.

Microsoft's SharePoint, with 100 million licensed users, can't cover all of your file archiving needs yet, adds Creese. "At the moment, SharePoint records management is still kind of rudimentary," he says. "SharePoint says you can put emails in certain categories and SharePoint will keep track of them." But that places a burden on users, he says. "They have to anoint [a document] as important."

However, a predominant number of SharePoint deployments are replacing corporate systems, says Brian Babineau, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) in Milford, MA. That means companies are realizing they don't need to store as many files on their networked storage.

"We are certainly seeing that impact on the storage side," says Babineau. He predicts more system archiving will be provided by major NAS vendors "and not by any connection to the file archiving software vendors."

CA, EMC, Hewlett-Packard and IBM had products in last year's email archiving Magic Quadrant from Stamford, CT-based Gartner. Symantec was named a market leader. Gartner labeled AXS-One, Mimosa Systems and Zantaz (owned by Autonomy) as visionaries that were all competing against C2C Systems, CommVault, Messaging Architects, Open Text, Quest Software, Waterford Technologies and ZL Technologies. Some of those companies had products in the enterprise content management Magic Quadrant, where SharePoint competes.

The new Oracle package (sort of a SharePoint manager, if you will) performs email stubbing; email messages and attachments are swiped from mail systems and archived while a reference stub remains. Stubbing is on the agenda of plenty of major file-system vendors, says Babineau. "The challenge for vendors is to figure out how to do it outside a Windows environment. Reputable vendors are working on how to do it while reducing the risk of a customer losing any data, mostly with Unix and Linux stubs."

In a 2007 survey conducted by ESG, file archiving users cited "compliance with record-retention regulations" as the primary reason for implementation, rating it far ahead of improving server and backup times, and user experiences.

--Ellen O'Brien

This was first published in June 2008
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