by Orlando Scott-Cowley
We’ve only been in the New Year a few weeks and it’s quickly becoming clear that 2014 is the year of the cloud. Even the committed laggards or cloud refuseniks are being compelled to move some services into the cloud.
But you would expect us to say that of course. As in all things, there’s always another point of view to consider. One of our older posts on the value of the cloud received a challenging comment that warrants a response. This comment gave us all the opportunity to reconsider why a commitment to cloud services makes sense for customers of all kinds and sizes, even those within regulated industries.
Barriers to cloud adoption have been broken down – initial reticence regarding data ownership in the cloud has been met with credibility built by vendors
The comment challenged our stand on the cloud:
“…Regulation may require certain data controls/protections/audit trails which a Hosted product can’t provide and Exchange (Windows Server Standard plus Exchange software, backups, redundant power, etc.) remain cost prohibitive….”
Initially I was just going to post a response to the comment, but as it has been some time since the original post, I thought that it was worth bringing this discussion right to the top of our blog. Thank you John for taking the time to comment on the post – I hope this post acts as an update, a reassertion of our belief that the cloud is actually more and more an ideal solution specifically for companies of all sizes dealing with the additional pressures of regulatory control.
Most Mimecast customers face these issues. So why is the cloud the solution to their needs?
In the world of email, these industries have high demands on storing and accessing their data – they need sophisticated e-discovery capabilities, granular legal hold functionality, centralization of archives and rigorous compliance capabilities. They have a heavy security requirement too, of course.
The bottom line is that neither on-premise or cloud archiving solutions address these demands perfectly. But what is clear is that in terms of centralization of data, cost to the business, and time to implement, cloud has and will continue to be the better option. And it’s these powerful values which are driving business as a whole towards hosted services, including finance and legal.
As far back as 2011, data were beginning to emerge about this wholesale shift to cloud services. At that point, about one-fifth of companies had already moved their email archiving to cloud or hosted options, away from on-premise. In the same study a significant number of those maintaining capacity in-house had experienced failures in hardware and software implementations, and one third had lost emails – possibly as a result.
Also, remaining barriers have been broken down.
Initial reticence regarding data ownership in the cloud has given way to proof of credibility built by vendors providing well-trained engineers and experts available to support the service. These services offer parity with traditional options. For example, in the case of archiving, email should be stored in its original format mirrored to multiple locations. In addition, written into a vendor’s SLA should be a guarantee that the customer’s data will only be stored within appropriate jurisdictions, to ensure compliance with the regulations imposed in some sectors.
So to answer the original question, is the cloud always the solution? The answer is actually in a few cases it may not be for everyone. But as cloud services continue to mature, these exceptions will become few and far between.
by Orlando Scott-Cowley
[Tweet "Your real social network, your most accurate social network--is your email contact list"]
You can’t have failed to notice the brouhaha surrounding LinkedIn’s Intro App; ‘security consultants’ from far and wide are ranting about the potential for the app to be a huge security hole or target for hackers, but very few, or none that I noticed, had spotted the silver lining here; there’s huge untapped potential built into the way we communicate and the 3rd party sources of data we could integrate into those communications.
Your real social network, your most accurate social network–is your email contact list
Firstly, I’m not downplaying the security risk of routing your email through a 3rd party whose job it is to collect as much information about you as possible. Not to mention the serious security breaches LinkedIn suffered recently. But I think it is important to point out that for corporate users, LinkedIn’s app doesn’t (yet) support Microsoft Exchange; the only supported email platforms are Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail and iCloud, so the imminent risk is related to personal information rather than corporate data.
Secondly, there is a silver lining to all of this; and if LinkedIn had thought about it, they could have exploited this idea in a much more business friendly way. Business users are, after all, their entire user base. As Google and Yahoo are finding out through the US Legal process, there are some obvious sensitivities to ‘scanning’ customers email for content; even if the scanning helps the provider serve up ads. I’m sure LinkedIn thought this through, but the poorly thought out implementation of Intro does make me wonder.
Back to the silver lining. Think for a second about two groups of users, if you will.
The first is a set of ‘contacts’ you’ve collected for quite some time; a group of people you barely know and communicate with rarely. These will be colleagues, both ex and current, people you ‘meet’ at meetings and at trade shows, recruiters, industry friends etc. In short a small network of people you mutually collect and connect to in the hope they’ll help you find your next employer.
Of course the first group is your LinkedIn contacts, and the second is your email contacts. LinkedIn is very much static, and I see Intro as being LinkedIn’s way of helping you connect more, or to be blunt, gain more static contacts for their business model.
On the other hand your real social network, your most accurate social network–is your email contact list. I don’t mean your address book, I mean the real time dynamic set of people and email addresses you are communicating with right now; your sent items today, yesterday and the day before, the people you collaborate with the most. This is where the real value is, and where email service providers could really show you who you connect with, when, why and for how long. The dynamic nature of this group also means it’s up to date, as of right now, and importantly if you chose to you could extend your view into that group down several degrees of connection. Think about who you’ve emailed today, who those people are emailing, and who their contacts are emailing—that’s a real business social network. And all of that without getting a single email from a recruiter.
If LinkedIn Intro had helped us identify those live connections without intruding on the way we connect, that would really be an App, that would really be useful, and in an enterprise or business context it would be infinitely valuable.
by Orlando Scott-Cowley
The concept of the interactive archive as the future direction of the Enterprise Information Archive is starting to take shape in the minds of CIOs and IT staff, who are trying to meet the new requirements demanded of their data. It’s a vision driven by the idea that archiving is about more than simply-storage or vault models we’ve become used to.
Visual representation of Forrester Research, Cheryl McKinnon’s presentation in The Archive Unleashed webinar
I’ve been speaking more about the concept recently, but it was ‘The Archive Unleashed’ webinar early in October, which highlighted how the idea was evolving. Cheryl McKinnon, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research who joined us for the discussion, called out the key battles grounds of ownership of unstructured data and migration of legacy systems as areas which will define how this vision will evolve.
Also, my presentations at one of Mimecast’s leading technology partners, Essential Computing, ‘Email Archive Migration Masterclass’ and IP EXPO have helped us refine the idea even further. At Mimecast we talk about an Interactive Archive and while this isn’t a specific product, it’s a vision that sets us and our customers on a journey to a more useful archive. Interactive Archiving is set apart from today’s EIA solutions by some important characteristics, which we can now define…
- Value inherent to archive data: Most EIA solutions simply store, or vault, information. Extracting value from your intellectual Property therein is nigh on impossible. A significant part of our long term vision for your archive and its data, is to help you make the most of that data and the business intelligence locked in there.
- A new type of Cloud: While cloud archiving isn’t new, most cloud solutions are just a point replacement for an on-premise archive. Outsourcing the data storage is all they can offer. An Interactive Archive is one that brings all the benefits of the cloud, and the innovation of a cloud vendor, to deliver more access, more uses cases, more advancements and more value.
- End users are vital: Today, end users have very little aside from a clunky search. Our concept of interactivity of the archive comes from the consumption of information by the end users; in short how they access their data, and on which platforms–their key productivity apps like Outlook, through to dedicated Mobile OS apps to support them on the go.
The key principles above are hard for existing archive software vendors to deliver on, I’d go as far as to say, almost impossible. This is primarily a symptom of the way their software has been designed and how there is little or no roadmap for innovation into the future.
We think about our archive data within the confines, both physical and metaphorical, of the word “vault” and how data is simply retained, never to be seen again, let alone provide any value. Sadly, these types of archives are where your data goes to dies, never having the chance to become interactive for end users, and struggling at best to deliver results.
At IP EXPO I closed my presentation by encouraging the attendees to forget about the romance of the steam age, and forget their ‘old-style’ on premise archives. Steam powered computing if you will? These archives are killing your data, and worst still they’re stifling your organization’s competitive edge. It’s time to enlighten your users with the tools they need and empower your administrators with the controls and security they demand, as well as learn to look for the value in your own corporate big data.
‘Don’t just store information, use it’, is the way in which most progressive IT teams are translating the Big Data opportunity. It’s a perspective we should all get behind.
by Orlando Scott-Cowley
The hot topic this week at IP EXPO will be Big Data. It’s an opportunity which excites our industry because it promises significant benefits – more accessible relevant data, saving users time and making them more productive.
The hot topic this week at IPEXPO will be Big Data. It’s an opportunity which excites our industry because it promises significant benefits – more accessible relevant data, saving users time and making them more productive.
The main problem is of course the ‘big’ part of the concept. Businesses of all sizes have increasingly large repositories of data, but no vision or strategy for how best to exploit their data beyond basic eDiscovery.
Mimecast, like other progressive technology companies, puts these problems at the top of our agenda. Of course categorized information that shares key words, authors, time and geo-location stamps can be recognized as ‘connected’. But for it to be relevant to a user, the information has to be presented at the right time, in the right way and it must be interactive.
That’s what I predict will be a reoccurring conversation at this year’s IP EXPO – how businesses can unpick the opportunity that all this data represents and translate it into a personal context. I’ll be covering some of the possible answers in my presentation ‘The future of Enterprise Information Archiving; why your existing archiving strategy is dead’ on Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th 12:30 – 13:00pm in the Storage Theatre. So hopefully see you there.
Also, if you haven’t yet, you can still register for IP EXPO here up until 19:00 on Tuesday 15th October. Do drop in to see us (Stand E32) and we’d be glad to talk about how we can help you plan to make the most of your businesses data!