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Oracle jumps into archiving; can Microsoft be far behind?

Oracle is getting into the archiving game with the Oracle Universal Online Archive, which will archive email as well as unstructured files. The product will use Oracle’s own database as the underlying infrastructure, with Oracle Fusion Middleware on top for data ingestion and user interface.

Despite the name, the product is on-site software. There will also be an email-only option, Oracle E-Mail Archive Service, which supports Exchange, Notes and SMTP mail. The products are expected to be available sometime this year. The Universal Archive goes for $20 per named user or $75,000 per CPU, while the Email Archive is priced at $50 per named user or $40,000 per CPU.

Not only am I not surprised to see Oracle get into the data archiving space, to be honest, I’m wondering what took them so long. And while writing the previous paragraph, I said “Ouch” a few times–when it was noted that Oracle can archive multiple content types in one repository, which most third-party archivers can’t do yet; when it was noted that Oracle can support not only Notes but SMTP on top of Exchange, which most third party archivers can’t do yet; and again when I saw the steep pricing.

Be that as it may, it’s been well known that databases like SQL are the basis for most third-party archiving software today. It’s also been well known that customers are catching on to archiving for database data as well. Finally, it’s bleedin’ obvious that Exchange is the dominant email platform and the dominant focus in email archiving. And I’ve wondered for a long time why companies like Oracle and Microsoft didn’t get in on this, since they have what seems like a slam dunk: ownership of the application and core technology, and mighty brand power that could conceivably crush the third-party market.

Easy, there, killer, was the response from ESG analyst Brian Babineau, who studies the archiving space. He pointed out that database archiving systems have to understand both the underlying database structure and the overlaying application, something Oracle isn’t doing. They may have an 800-lb. gorilla brand, he said, “but they have a tougher fight because there are native database archiving and native enterprise application vendors.”

To me this still leaves open the question of why Microsoft doesn’t just add archiving to Exchange, but Babineau pointed out the folks from Redmond already dipped a toe into the archiving market with FrontBridge and didn’t get too far. But I still have trouble believing that the Exchange archiving market would last long if Microsoft were to make a stronger move, say by acquiring a company like Mimosa and making stubbing and archiving a part of the Exchange interface.

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