by Orlando Scott-Cowley
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!
by Orlando Scott-Cowley
The Interactive Archive was first introduced as a concept on this blog in November last year.
It’s an idea that has since rapidly evolved, fueled by heightened expectation from users and IT teams that there should be one unified place to find useful information. That critical information is becoming harder to find and use as it fragments across the official and shadow IT network.
Interactive Archive: user benefits are beyond eDiscovery, with a new level of interactivity with Outlook, SharePoint, mobile devices and APIs.
The growing interest is why we’re hosting a free 60 minute webinar with respected analyst firm Forrester (‘The Archive Unleashed’ on 1st October 3pm UK, 10am EST US, 4pm SA) on this subject in a few weeks. Of course there are still parts of the concept that need to be landed but I’m excited at how quickly the rest of it’s falling into place. I’m particularly looking forward to the interactive part of the session as I’m sure there will be a number of ideas and questions which will build on the whitepaper on this topic we published with that blog post.
To provide a sense of what we’ll be presenting and discussing, here’s a quick recap of what an Interactive Archive is…
An Interactive Archive acquires a user’s desktop application information, along with their web applications such as Dropbox and their communication data like emails. It stores a central copy under IT’s management, resulting in a single view of this information to give the business an easy-to-access repository for compliance and business intelligence.
Administrators will be able to set flexible and granular retention controls as well as define a perpetual retention without worrying about performance or scalability issues in the future.
While for users the benefits are beyond eDiscovery, with a new level of interactivity with this information through platforms such as Outlook, SharePoint, mobile devices and APIs all bringing new ways to access the accumulated data.
As I mentioned earlier, in the spirit of interactivity we’re hoping participants will bring along questions to ask the experts at the webinar where we’ll be covering why businesses have outgrown traditional archiving and the impact of tapping into the archived data. Feel free to send me the questions directly (email@example.com) or post a comment after this post.
I’m pleased to say that we’re joined on the webinar by Cheryl McKinnon, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research and Raymond Sherwood, Infrastructure Manager, Symmetry Medical who will bring their own unique perspective as to why this will be an area of innovation for years to come.
You can register for the free ‘The Archive Unleashed’ webinar on 1st October here. Hope to share ideas with you then!
by Orlando Scott-Cowley
It was Gartner’s Matt Cain video interview about Hybrid Cloud and the adoption of Office 365 that really shone a light on an interesting trend. Two common concepts in IT are converging; Hybrid IT and Hybrid Cloud, which is putting businesses at a turning point in IT, where everything is becoming Hybrid, anyway.
The current definition of the forms of Hybrid infrastructure are easy to understand, and it’s important we differentiate between them for clarities sake:
- Hybrid IT: The use of cloud service providers to augment on-premise infrastructure to deliver enhanced functionality and/or better service, so creating a tools that deliver service from the cloud and your LAN cooperatively.
- Hybrid Cloud: Strictly speaking, and according to NIST, Hybrid Cloud is the use of two different types of cloud, i.e. Private and public cloud. However, I’m inclined to extend this definition in an enterprise context to include one or more enterprise cloud service providers working cooperatively and collaboratively to deliver better service to users, i.e. Microsoft Office 365 and Mimecast.
The natural progression for businesses follows a familiar path to the cloud. Very few CIOs I’ve met are keen to declare IT Bankruptcy and move to the cloud overnight; most are looking for a slow gradual cloud adoption, but all acknowledge there’s a wholesale migration of IT services to the cloud. We’ve called this strategy on-ramping to the cloud, and Just Enough On-Site, in the past.
Given the hesitancy of CIOs to move everything to the cloud over a long weekend, and Cain’s advice that you “Don’t play dice with your email” – most CIOs are keeping a set of core applications and services on the network, but augmenting them with Cloud services that deliver cheaper, faster, more feature rich and more innovative services from the Cloud. Take these two common email management tasks, email security and email archiving. I doubt there’s anyone, other than the uber cost-conscious, that given the chance to plan their infrastructure again would deploy on-premise gateways and archives. We all choose cloud first for many reasons, not least of which cloud means we don’t have to deploy any hardware.
Once cloud has been used to augment on-premise solutions, like Microsoft Exchange for example, the business starts to think more openly about a total cloud adoption. What was once a taboo subject starts to be more acceptable to executives who would have stifled the cloud out of fear or a lack of understanding in the past.
But, and here’s the gotcha…while executives have been worrying about the media-peddled hysteria over cloud security or cloud data privacy issues, the cloud has been slowly creeping into businesses via an unusual back door; and I’m not talking about BYOD or the consumerisation of IT.
What do I mean? For a long time now your IT team have been more and more hands-off their own infrastructure, they’ve applied less patches, updated fewer signatures and only ever accessed their on-premise management applications through web based GUIs or at worst Remote Desktops. Admittedly the cloud has many more facets than just management, but the point I want to make is that all of a sudden everything is touched by the cloud or a basic form of hybrid IT—and the IT team simply become caretakers of the application or appliance rather than true owners.
Take email security gateways for example; these gateways have always been a high maintenance applications, even after initial deployment administrators fine tune policies and definitions to make sure malware doesn’t slip through. The problem became so bad and the malware arms race so fast, that SEG vendors had to start pushing updates down to these appliances in order to keep them up to date. This red queen effect problem effectively saw the appliance vendor take over the management of the device from its owner, who is left with the odd policy update and configuration change. Suddenly, the appliance is more managed service than traditional box in a server room. It’s certainly a less obvious way enterprises are being deployed into a hybrid model.
The same is true for many other classically on-premise services, take applying patches with Windows Update as another example; although I can’t claim every single benefit of the cloud (elastic scalability, subscription based etc.) the removal of 95% of management from the network by software vendors effectively means everything is now hybrid in one form or another.
While I can’t say the simple act of automatic updates or security enhancements is a true Hybrid IT model, it’s certainly a fair way down the road that leads to the benefits of adding a 3rd party cloud solutions to your network. Software vendors managing on-premise software remotely means less ownership, less management, less administration and a cheaper cost to service by freeing up administrators time. How far down that road you go simply becomes a matter of time.