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Symantec to integrate Enterprise Vault with the cloud

Symantec will link its Enterprise Vault archiving application to the Symantec Protection Network cloud by the end of this year.

A Symantec Corp. executive says the company plans to offer cloud-based archiving services around the end of this year or early in 2010.

Simon Jelley, senior director for Enterprise Vault product management, tells that the company's archiving software will be linked with the cloud through the Symantec Protection Network (SPN). SPN is a platform of SaaS-based services, which currently includes Symantec Online Backup. Symantec licenses Enterprise Vault to partners offering Software as a Service (SaaS) archiving services, but hasn't attached it to its own cloud.

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"We certainly have some plans for working with [SPN], providing customers the capability to push data to the cloud from Enterprise Vault," says Jelley. "[We're] also looking at archiving options directly to the cloud itself."

Symantec will first attach Enterprise Vault to SPN for data management purposes, and will hold off on adding e-discovery capabilities until large data sets can be moved and secured more easily over the Internet. Cloud storage services haven't taken off for enterprise applications because Internet network bandwidth tends to be too small to efficiently move enterprise-sized data sets over the wire.

Brian Babineau, a senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), says using the cloud will help organizations manage their archives, although it brings e-discovery challenges.

"The biggest issue customers will face with their archives is the size," says Babineau. "If they can move some of it offsite, then they can alleviate the problem. The hardest part for the e-discovery scenario is determining what data belongs locally and what data belongs in the cloud."

A recent ESG survey of 25 corporate counsels with at least 5,000 employees in North America found that a preponderance of data requested for e-discovery was three years old or older. "So you really can't use age to determine what stays local and what goes to the cloud," says Babineau.

"What we want to look at is making sure that what's being passed to the cloud is the least-used or least-accessed data that needs to be kept for a longer amount of time," says Jelley, "but isn't necessarily going to be involved in a high amount of user retrieval or for discovery."

SaaS for e-discovery and compliance purposes has been slow to take off. A Forrester Research report released last year about on-premise vs. SaaS-based email archiving products concluded that the latter were "not ready for prime time."

Jelley says he agrees with that assessment. "My opinion, looking at the cloud-based solutions that offer some form of discovery today, is [that] they're pretty limited in terms of the capability they provide compared to the types of in-house solutions we provide; for example, with our Discovery Accelerator application that we offer on top of [Enterprise Vault]," he says.

Symantec plans to pull more content types into its archive soon. "The next big push is around voice message systems," says Jelley. "We do have a partner that's about to announce being able to bring in different voicemails to [Enterprise Vault]. The next thing is to build toward space-saving elements [like data deduplication], but [voicemails] become relevant to e-discovery, as well."

The partner, whom Jelley didn't name, would provide conversion from voice to text so Enterprise Vault could apply the same algorithms it generates for other content. Jelley anticipates this integration during the early part of this year, probably in the early March timeframe.

Listen to Q&A with Jelley, who's been working with the Enterprise Vault product since he was an employee at Digital Equipment Corp. in the late 1990s.

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