A company already offering consumers the ability to back up instant messages and social media messages from platforms like Twitter and Facebook is looking to take a cloud storage-based data archiving offering into the enterprise, at a time when some experts expect government regulations to tighten in the wake of last year's mortgage crisis and more recent scandals.
Dexrex Gear, the business division of social media backup company Dexrex, this week launched ChatSync, which can intercept messages sent from corporate mobile devices using Web 2.0 communication networks including text messaging, AOL Instant Messenger, Google Talk, GMail chat, Twitter and Facebook.
Dexrex already lets consumers back up instant messages and social media messages from platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and Dexrex Gear is looking to extend that capability into an enterprise data archiving tool.
Dexrex CEO Derek Lyman said because messaging services use different protocols and they are frequently updated, it's tough to stay compliant with archived data. The distributed nature of the networks is another challenge for IT teams. Dexrex Gear looks to overcome these hurdles by capturing message data into its cloud storage, normalizing it in a relational database, and making it available for online search in response to customers' regulatory or e-discovery requests.
"Skype updated 221 times last year," Lyman said. "There aren't any standards or a consistent way of accessing these networks. It's a complete mess."
Dexrex Gear is looking to integrate its product into existing email data archiving software, focusing on keeping up with changing IM protocols. Lyman expects to sell mostly through OEM and channel partners. The company has deals with Seccast.com, USA.net and Perimeter USA to offer IM data archiving to their clients, and claims New York City-based financial services firm The Seaport Group is an end-user customer.
While experts agree that data archiving products need to broaden their reach beyond email, most enterprise products have focused on adding enterprise applications like SQL databases or corporate file shares. Only a handful of vendors handle IM archiving, including LiveOffice (which also has a SaaS component), and Mimosa Systems, which works with partner FaceTime to supply the IM data archiving portion of its NearPoint software.
"IM archiving has been around for a while and a good number of archive vendors support Gmail," Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Brian Babineau said. "The social networking angle [for Dexrex Gear] is new. The real question is, will any corporation want to do this? There is still a debate on social networking content being admitted as evidence."
Others said regulators may look at social networking and other mobile data, citing last month's Wall Street insider trading scandal – in which Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam and co-conspirators reportedly used text messaging from mobile phones and instant messaging, allegedly to conduct illegal communications and order trades.
"I think it's inevitable Sarbanes-Oxley will be extended to cover the Internet communications space," Yankee Group analyst Zeus Karravala said. "It won't affect small companies, but anything publicly traded would be covered by that, and it can be expensive and difficult to gather this information."
"I think that is a huge stretch," countered Babineau. "[Sarbanes-Oxley] doesn't have an email archiving or IM archiving requirement -- it has retention requirements pertaining to material related to financial reporting and those that audit financial statements."