Previewing Information Management in 2012

Every New Year affords us the opportunity to dust down our collective crystal balls and predict what we think will be the key trends and technologies dominating our respective coverage areas over the coming 12 months.We at 451 Research just published our 2012 Preview report; at almost 100 pages it’s a monster, but offers some great insights across twelve technology subsectors, spanning from managed hosting and the future of cloud to the emergence of software-defined networking and solid state storage; and everything in between. The report is available to both 451Research clients and non-clients (in return for a few details); access the landing page here.  There’s a press release of highlights here. Also, mark your diaries for a webinar discussing report highlights on Thursday Feb 9 at noon ET, which will be open for clients and non-clients to attend. Registration details to follow soon…

Here are a selection of key takeaways from the first part of the Information Management preview, which focuses on information governance, ediscovery, search, collaboration and file sharing. (Matt Aslett will be posting highlights of part 2, which focuses more on data management and analytics, shortly.)

  • One of the most obvious common themes that will continue to influence technology spending decisions in the coming year is the impact of continued explosive data and information growth.  This  continues to shape new legal frameworks and technology stacks around information governance and e-discovery, as well as to drive a new breed of applications growing up around what we term the ‘Total Data’ landscape.
  • Data volumes and distributed data drive the need for more automation and auto-classification capabilities will continue to emerge more successfully in e-discovery, information governance and data protection veins — indeed, we expect to see more intersection between these, as we noted in a recent post.
  • The maturing of the cloud model – especially as it relates to file sharing and collaboration, but also from a more structured database perspective – will drive new opportunities and challenges for IT professionals in the coming year.  Looks like 2012 may be the year of ‘Dropbox for the enterprise.’
  • One of the big emerging issues that rose to the fore in 2011, and is bound to get more attention as the New Year proceeds, is around the dearth of IT and business skills in some of these areas, without which the industry at large will struggle to harness and truly exploit the attendant opportunities.
  • The changes in information management in recent years have encouraged (or forced) collaboration between IT departments, as well as between IT and other functions. Although this highlights that many of the issues here are as much about people and processes as they are about technology, the organizations able to leap ahead in 2012 will be those that can most effectively manage the interaction of all three.
  • We also see more movement of underlying information management infrastructures into the applications arena.  This is true with search-based applications, as well as in the Web-experience management vein, which moves beyond pure Web content management.  And while Microsoft SharePoint continues to gain adoption as a base layer of content-management infrastructure, there is also growth in the ISV community that can extend SharePoint into different areas at the application-level.

There is a lot more in the report about proposed changes in the e-discovery arena, advances of the cloud, enterprise search and impact of mobile devices and bring-your-device-to-work on information management.

Vendors are lining up to get into the cloud file-sharing ‘box’

We recently published a spotlight report on cloud file sharing and sync, file backup and file-oriented collaboration in the cloud – and all the overlaps and intersections between these areas.  The full report is available here for 451 Research subscribers (link requires log-in).

The idea was to shed some light on this sector that often seems to be described by its two best known players – Dropbox and Box.  Despite the similar names, the services offered by these two providers have significant differences.  And each is after a different, though in some cases overlapping, target market.

Dropbox in particular seems to be gaining a lot of attention from enterprise IT departments — and it’s not all good.  As compliance, security, risk and IT folks in general try to get their arms around the fact that corporate data is moving to Dropbox (and other services), a number of providers have started to look at providing alternatives.  All of this largely driven of course by the widespread use of iPads and other mobile devices by business users and their need to access files from these devices and keep them in sync across mobile and desktop systems.  Box exploits this requirement as well, but offers more file-oriented collaboration capabilities, though not full-blown content management in the traditional sense.

Cloud file sharing, sync and mobile support for file collaboration will all be hot topics in 2012.  We feel we might quickly be inundated by the number of providers that want to offer some kind of alternative to Dropbox to appease IT departments and/or better mobile access to existing enterprise content systems, like SharePoint.  Below is our first-stab attempt to start to map some of this to the sub-sectors within this broader and rapidly shifting landscape.  And we know it’s not comprehensive, the players here are changing almost daily.

Cloud file backup, sharing, sync and collaboration providers

Source: 451 Research

Search by another name: enterprise search starts to mature into ‘application era’

Customers of The 451 Group would have seen my report on the enterprise search market published September 15. If you are a client, you can view it here. I thought it would be useful to provide a condensed version of the report to a wider audience as I think the market is at an important point it in its development and it merits a broader discussion.

The enterprise search market is morphing before our eyes into something new. Portions of it are disappearing, and others are moving into adjacent markets, but a core part of it will remain intact. A few key factors have caused this, we think. Some are historical, by which we mean they had their largest effect in the past, but the ongoing effect is still being felt, whereas the contemporary factors are the ones that we think are having their largest impact now, and will continue to do so in the short-term future (12-18 months).

Historical factors

  • Over-promising and under-delivery of intranet search between the last two US recessions, roughly between 2002 and 2007, resulting in a lot of failed projects.
  • A lack of market awareness and understanding of the value and risk inherent in unstructured data.
  • The entrance of Google into the market in 2002.
  • The lack of vision by certain closely related players in enterprise content management (ECM) and business intelligence (BI).

Contemporary factors

  • The lack of a clear value proposition for enterprise search.
  • The rise of open source, in particular Apache Lucene/Solr.
  • The emergence of big data, or total data.
  • The social media explosion.
  • The rapid spread of SharePoint.
  • The acquisitive growth of Autonomy Corp.
  • Acquisition of fast-growing players by major software vendors, notably Dassault Systemes, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft.

The result of all this has been a split into roughly four markets, which we refer to as low-end, midmarket, OEM and high-end search-based applications.

Entry-level search

The low-end, or entry-level, enterprise search market has become, if not commodified, then pretty close to it. It is dominated by Google and open source. Other commercial vendors that once played in it have mostly left the market.

The result is that potential entry-level enterprise search customers are left with a dichotomy of choices: Google’s yellow search appliances that have two-year-term licenses and somewhat limited configurability (but are truly plug-and-play options) on the one hand, and open source on the other. It is a closed versus a very open box, and they have different and equally enthusiastic customer bases. Google is a very popular department-level choice, often purchased by line-of-business knowledge workers frustrated at obsolete and over-engineered search engines. Open source is, of course, popular with those that want to configure their search engine themselves or have a service provider do it and, thus, have a lot of control over how the engine works, as well as the results it delivers. Apache Lucene is also part of many commercial, high-end enterprise search products, including those of IBM.

Midmarket search

Mid-market search is a somewhat vague area, where vendors are succeeding in deals of roughly $75,000-250,000 selling intranet search. This area has thinned out as some vendors have tried to move upmarket into the world of search-based applications, but there are still many vendors making a decent living here. However, SharePoint has had a major effect on this part of the market, and if enterprises already have SharePoint – and Microsoft reckons more than 70% have at least bought a license at some point already – then it can be tough to offer a viable alternative. However, if SharePoint isn’t the main focus, then there is still a decent business to be had offering effective enterprise search, often in specific verticals, albeit without a huge amount of vertical customization.


The OEM search business has become a lot more interesting recently, in part due to which vendors have left it, leaving space for others. Microsoft’s acquisition of FAST in early 2008 meant one of the two major vendors at the time had essentially left the market entirely, since its focus moved almost entirely to SharePoint, as we recently documented. The other major OEM vendor at the time was Autonomy, and while it would still consider itself to be so, we think much of its OEM business, in fact, comes from document filters, rather than the OEMing of the IDOL search engine. Autonomy would strongly dispute that, but it might be moot soon anyway – it now looks as if it will end up as part of Hewlett-Packard following the announcement of its acquisition at a huge valuation, on August 18.

Those exits have left room for the rise of other vendors in the space. Key markets here include archiving, data-loss prevention and e-discovery. Many tools in these areas have old or quite basic search and text analysis functionality embedded in them, and vendors are looking for more powerful alternatives.

Search-based applications

The high end of the enterprise search market has become, in effect, the market for search-based applications (SBA) – that is, applications that are built on top of a search engine, rather than solely a relational database (although they often work alongside a database). These were touted back in the early 2000s by FAST, but it was too early, and FAST was too complex a set of tools to give the notion widespread acceptance. But in the latter part of the last decade and this one, SBAs have emerged as an answer to the problem of generic intranet search engines getting short shrift from users dissatisfied that the search engines don’t deliver what they want, when they want it.

Until recently, SBAs have mainly been a case of the vendors and their implementation partners building one-off custom applications for customers. But they are now moving to the stage where out-of-the-box user interfaces are being supplied for common tasks. In other words, it’s maturing in a similar way to the application software industry 20 years ago, which was built on top of the explosion in the use of relational databases.

We’ve seen examples in manufacturing, banking and customer service, and one of the key characteristics of SBAs is their ability to combine structured and unstructured data together in a single interface. That was also the goal of earlier efforts to combine search with business-intelligence tools, which often simply took the form of adding a search engine to a BI tool. That was too simplistic, and the idea didn’t really take off, in part because search vendors hadn’t paid enough attention to structure data.

But SBAs, which put much more focus on the indexing process than earlier efforts, appear to be gaining traction. If we were to get to the situation where search indexes are considered a better way of manipulating disparate data types than relational databases, that would be a major shift (see big data). Another key element of successful SBAs is that they don’t look like traditional search engines, with a large amount of white space and a search bar in the middle of the screen. Rather, they make use of facets and other navigation techniques to guide users through information, or often simply to present the relevant information to them.

As I mentioned, there’s more in the full report, including more about specific vendors, total (or big) data and the impact of social media. If you’d like to know more about it, please get in touch with me.

The SharePoint ecosystem and the cloud

Looking further into the growing ecosystem of vendors that extend and support Microsoft SharePoint, we get to the question of where ISVs fit when SharePoint is in the cloud.  The short answer, really, is that they don’t.  OK, that’s an oversimplification of course, but there is currently a far more limited role for third parties looking to extend SharePoint if it is run in a shared cloud environment.  And this points to some contradictions in Microsoft’s strategy.  On the one hand, we see a big push around SharePoint as a platform and this growing ecosystem of third parties.  On the other hand, Microsoft is touting SharePoint Online as part of the upcoming Office 365 cloud-based service (to replace the existing Business Productivty Online Suite, aka BPOS), which really has very little support for third parties.

BPOS, which bundles SharePoint Online along with Exchange and a few other services, is currently offered in both Standard and Dedicated versions.   In the Standard version, customers have multi-tenant infrastructure that is shared across customers.  With the Dedicated version (or BPOS D), they have (obviously) dedicated infrastructure, which pretty much traditional application hosting; with this BPOS D configuration, Microsoft is the hosting provider, though this scenario would really not be much different from having another hosting provider run your SharePoint deployment on dedicated servers.  Office 365 will also be made available on either shared or dedicated infrastructure.

There is currently no support for trusted third-party code in the Standard version of BPOS (aka BPOS S), nor will there be in the Office 365 Standard version.  Customers that want to extend their SharePoint deployment with, say, workflow tools from Nintex or imaging capabilities from KnowledgeLake (or any of their own custom code), will have to run their SharePoint deployments on prem or in a dedicated environment, hosted by either Microsoft or another hosting provider.

That isn’t to say that integration with BPOS / Office 365 is impossible — web services-based integration that requires no server-side installs on the SharePoint servers isn’t an issue.  So, for example, Metavis Technologies has migration tools that can move data to / from BPOS without installing anything on the SharePoint servers and so can work with SharePoint as part of BPOS S (and Office 365 presumably).  Similarly, on the Exchange side of BPOS, email archiving to a cloud provider like LiveOffice works via a data export function that doesn’t touch the cloud-based Exchange servers.

Maybe the argument is that orgs don’t want to run more sophisticated content management apps in pure cloud environments.  That may be an ok way to segment the market today but it will be limiting in the future.   One of the advantages Microsoft has today over an upstart cloud player, like for example, is the growing ecosystem of extensions that can help fit SharePoint into a broad array of use cases.  But these aren’t there in the cloud. If Box (or another player) could grow and support an ecosystem in the cloud (and support custom code and in-house developers), it might get some advantage; this is the strategy SpringCM has been attempting, with some, limited success, with its platform approach to ECM in the cloud.  Salesforce has also been more aggressively building its social software offering, Chatter (see recent acquisition of Dimdim as case in point).  This doesn’t meet a plethora of content management requirements yet but is potentially competitive to SharePoint as a social software service for internal use.

There are clear limitations to the approach Microsoft is currently taking with the SharePoint ecosystem and BPOS / Office 365 and it seems this will be something that Microsoft will have to ultimately address if it wants to be serious about offering SharePoint as cloud services.  This isn’t the only issue that might keep organizations away from the Standard version of Office 365 (i.e., how much SharePoint functionality will it include and how often will it rev?), but it could be a big one.

SharePoint at center of growing ecosystem in content management

Over the past few quarters, I’ve fielded a number of inquiries from IT, investor and vendor clients about an emerging “SharePoint ecosystem.”  Questions range from “We want to extend our SharePoint deployment to support a transactional app.  What third-party tools should we look at?” to “What are the gaps in SharePoint where there are opportunities for investment?” In response to some of these queries, I’ve put together a new report for 451 Group clients that shares a title with this blog post.

It’s hardly a secret that SharePoint has had and will continue to have a tremendous impact on the content management market.  Organizations really started taking SharePoint seriously as a content management platform after the release of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server in 2007 (affectionately known as MOSS 2007).  We’ve seen a few trends since that time that affect this idea of a SharePoint ecosystem:

  • With many organizations investing significant amounts of time, money and effort in their SharePoint deployments, there is a good deal of interest in expanding SharePoint’s use beyond some of the more basic content sharing uses and intranet apps where it mostly started.
  • Along with that however is a better understanding by many in IT and in business units of where SharePoint works well and where it falls short.  This isn’t true across the board, as there is still a great deal of variation in terms of the sophistication of SharePoint deployments (i.e., the more an org uses SharePoint, the more they are likely to see its limitations).
  • Microsoft’s own attitude towards SharePoint seems to have shifted to some degree since the 2007 MOSS launch.  At that point, Microsoft positioned SharePoint more as the end-all, be-all of content management.  That positioning seemed to fade pretty quickly in the face of the realities of content management realized by Microsoft’s field organizations and partners.  Today there is more subtlety in how Microsoft defines its own content management capabilities (foundational) vs. the areas it leaves to partners (supplemental).  I’m not claiming this new, Microsoft has been positioning SharePoint as a dev’t platform for ISVs for some time, but it is worth highlighting as an ongoing trend as it relates to the ISV ecosystem.

So those three trends taken together and separately can point to significant opportunities for ISVs that are extending SharePoint.  There is also really not much in the new SharePoint 2010 release to derail many of these players; there is still lots of room for extension and complementary capabilities.

Some of these are smaller players really dedicating their businesses to SharePoint (e.g., Nintex, KnowledgeLake) and some are much larger businesses that have either invested heavily in SharePoint tools (e.g., Quest Software).  Existing large ECM vendors fit into this ecosystem as well, as they have adjusted strategies to both coexist and compete with SharePoint (e.g., Open Text, EMC).  We cover most of these vendors in some depth in our regular Market Insight Service and look at them together and at some of the competitive dynamics in the segment in this Spotlight report.

Information management preview of 2011

Our clients will have seen our preview of 2011 last week. For those that aren’t (yet!) clients and therefore can’t see the whole 3,500-word report, here’s the introduction, followed by the titles of the sections to give you an idea of what we think will shape the information management market in 2011 and beyond. Of course the IT industry, like most others doesn’t rigorously follow the wiles of the Gregorian calendar, so some of these things will happen next year while others may not occur till 2012 and beyond. But happen they will, we believe.

We think information governance will play a more prominent role in 2011 and in the years beyond that. Specifically, we think master data management and data governance applications will appear in 2011 to replace the gaggle of spreadsheets, dashboards and scorecards commonly used today. Beyond that, we think information governance will evolve in the coming years, kick-started by end users who are asking for a more coherent way to manage their data, driven in part by their experience with the reactive and often chaotic nature of e-discovery.

In e-discovery itself, we expect to see a twin-track adoption trend. While cloud-based products have proven popular, at the same time, more enterprises buy e-discovery appliances.

‘Big data’ has become a bit of a catchall term to describe the masses of information being generated, but in 2011 we expect to see a shift to what we term a ‘total data’ approach to data management, as well as the analytics applications and tools that enable users to generate the business intelligence from their big data sets. Deeper down, the tools used in this process will include new BI tools to exploit Hadoop, as well as a push in predictive analytics beyond the statisticians and into finance, marketing and sales departments.

SharePoint 2010 may have come out in the year for which it is named, but its use will become truly widespread in 2011 as the first service pack is release and the ISV community around it completes their updates from SharePoint 2007. However, we don’t think cloud-based SharePoint will grow quite as fast as some people may expect. Finally, in the Web content management (WCM) market – so affected by SharePoint, as well as the open source movement – we expect a stratification between the everyday WCM-type scenario and Web experience management (WEM) for those organization that need to tie WCM, Web analytics, online marketing and commerce features together.

  • Governance family reunion: Information governance, meet governance, risk and compliance; meet data governance….
  • Master data management, data quality, data integration: the road to data governance
  • E-discovery post price war: affordable enough, or still too strategic to risk?
  • Data management – big, bigger, biggest
  • Putting the BI into big data in Hadoop
  • The business of predictive analytics
  • SharePoint 2010 gets real in 2011
  • WCM, WEM and stratification

And with that we’d like to wish all readers of Too Much Information a happy holiday season and a healthy and successful 2011.

Gilbane takeaways: Social merging with WCM, open source on the rise and portals never left us

Such a busy three days at Gilbane Boston this year, I hardly had time to even follow the tweet stream from the event.  I was involved in four sessions and best I can do at this point is to recap a few of the key highlights from each.

The open source session I presented with Seth Gottlieb got some good response and was apt I think given the much larger presence of open source at the show overall this year.  Someone told me (but I didn’t confirm) that last year there were two open source booths on the show floor and this year there were six (dotCMS, Hippo, Nuxeo, Magnolia and Plone were the ones I counted – who am I missing?).  Alfresco and Acquia were notably absent I thought, though were both were represented on a couple of panels.

Open source also came up in the panel I moderated on portals, as we had Chris Stavros from LEVEL Studios there and Chris has done a lot of work with the Liferay portal.  We also had Glenn Mannke, Director of Intranet Development at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, talking with us about how they use Oracle Portal and how embedded this is in their overall infrastructure.  Russ Edelman lent his SharePoint perspective as did John Petersen from Sutro Software who has worked with the Vignette (now Open Text) portal for a number of years.  I’ll sum up the key takeaways from this panel as:

  • Portals never went away, even though the marketing died down.  They were victims of the hype earlier in the decade.  Glenn in particular emphasized how portals are only becoming more important in his organization as the number of tools and apps they manage proliferate.
  • John and Chris likened portals to a new Web OS that delivers application and infrastructure services.
  • We spent some time talking about what those services are exactly and the panelists agreed that identity management and SSO are crucial.
  • There was also some interesting discussion about client-side vs. server-side portals.  Is an app that can aggregate little windows on a screen a portal?  The panelists gave a resounding “no” to this question, given the lack of infrastructure services noted above.
  • And portal standards (e.g., JSR 286) weren’t noted as being particularly important.

I thought portals might also come up on the panel I hosted on social publishing.  This brought WCM vendors together with pure social software plays for a discussion about where these two market sectors are headed.  It was perhaps not quite as heated as I’d hoped, but there was a bit of controversy.  David Carter, CTO from Awareness and Adam Mertz, Product Marketer at Jive, admitted that their systems don’t do WCM and that many customers still need that function (I think particularly for external sites), but that social is important enough to warrant its own layer in the stack.  They argued that WCM systems aren’t architected to support the dynamic nature of social media.  Lars Trieloff from Day Software and Dmitri Tcherevik of FatWire definitely didn’t agreeBryan House of Acquia (Drupal) argued that open source does the best job blending the two.

In general though, I think the panelists agreed that social is becoming part of so many other things (there was some discussion of CRM + social as well).  That still leaves me scratching my head as to the future of the pure social software vendors (I asked if Jive might also get into WCM, but, not surprisingly, didn’t get a direct answer).

SharePoint came up in all of these sessions, as it also did on the analyst panel, not surprisingly as SharePoint has an impact in social, portals, WCM and just about every other aspect of ECM.  Microsoft had a big presence at Gilbane this year, a little surprising to me since Gilbane is generally a pretty WCM-focused show. I had the chance to sit down for about an hour with Ryan Duguid, a Microsoft product manager for ECM in the SharePoint group.  He insisted SharePoint plays in .com-type WCM scenarios and pointed me to this list, which I have seen before.  It’s just doesn’t seem to come up much though in talking with clients and vendors about WCM.  And I don’t see too much in the 2010 release that looks to change that.  Am I missing something?

Overall, a good lively show.  I heard attendance was up and the exhibit hall was full of vendors – there never seems to be a lull in the influx of new vendors to this space.  Lots of interesting conversations about social, open source and online marketing, which all bodes well for a continued vibrant market in 2010.

E2.0 wrap-up

Another event, another post-event wind down.  I had limited time at the Enterprise 2.0 conference this year so only got a limited view of what was happening.  Some general takeaways anyway:

The SharePoint Factor.  This was the title of a session I attended – a good one – put on by Amy Vickers, VP, Global Enterprise Solutions at Razorfish.  The session abstract asks the big question, “How does the SharePoint competition stand a chance?”  She asked at the beginning of the session how many in the audience were either using or planning to use SharePoint.  I think I was one of about 5 people who didn’t raise a hand.  Obviously a it was a session on SharePoint, but still.

In another session, there was a question about integration standards and whether audience members would like to see social software vendors support the JSR portal standards or OpenSocial or what.  Silence.  Then one attendee raised his hand to say he didn’t care about the standards but as he walked around the show floor looking at all the independent players, all he wants to see is – how does it integrate with SharePoint?  The SharePoint factor indeed.

Are portals back? A related and surprisingly lively and interesting topic, especially for me as I spent years covering the portal market and working as a product manager on an enterprise portal product.  I’ve heard repeatedly that portals were “dead.”  Not so apparently.  It’s been obvious for awhile that social software products are starting to look like portals, with UIs turning into somewhat configurable, personalized dashboards with data coming from different underlying tools (e.g., tag cloud, forum posts, wiki activity etc.).  But it seems things are going one step further with products from MindTouch, Telligent and Atlassian all heading more towards portal-like features even if they’re not calling them that (most stick with “platform”).  Others, like Bluenog, are pushing the portal idea more explicitly.  In any case, this mostly includes the ability to aggregate and/or integrate data or functions from tools / apps outside of the purview of the social software vendor.

There was even a portal session with panelists Larry Bowden from IBM and Vince Casarez of Oracle.  Here the point being made was that the raison d’etre of portals hasn’t changed — customers are still looking to aggregate services and info for different audience groups in a way that is secure and roles-based (if not actually personalized).  And that this can be a perfect delivery vehicle for newer social features via an environment users are already familiar with.  Not sure portals in many cases have had the adoption to make that last statement as true as the portal vendors might like it to be.  But there is something to their argument that these newer products don’t necessarily need to reinvent the aggregation, security and delivery mechanisms already found in portals.   In any event, interesting to see a breath of new life in the portal market.  And let’s not forget there’s a portal component in SharePoint…

Use cases not tools.  This was another recurring theme I heard across meetings and sessions.  We’re thankfully moving beyond the discussion of blogs, wikis and so on, to discuss customer support, sales team effectiveness, innovation management, brand development and the like.  This shows some much needed maturity in the market, but also makes it perhaps even  more difficult for vendors to differentiate; anyone can sell (or at least try to sell) a use case.  There were still a lot of vendors on the show floor this year, though I’d bet fewer than last year (but I don’t have that data), and lots more discussion of profitability, viability and risk.

What will it look like next year?  It seems to me part of the growing maturity is the realization that a lot of this social functionality needs to seep into other apps and business processes (that’s part of the portal discussion certainly).  I think that makes it harder for dicussions or events specifically on “E2.0” as it is really so many different things depending on what exactly you’re trying to do and why.  There will undoubtedly be a show next year, but I wonder for how many years after that?  We should remember that this used to be called the Collaborative Technologies Conference and still so many of the ideas discussed remind me of knowledge management conferences ten years ago.  We’ll keep talking about these things, but I’m not sure how much longer under the “2.0” umbrella.

Microsoft sheds more light on Office 14

Microsoft has begun to share information on what it calls the “waves” of Office 14 products set to hit the market this year and next. Most of the information at this point is on Microsoft Exchange 2010, which has entered public beta. General availability is expected in the second half of this year.

There’s also some info for SharePoint, though little detail. Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 will go into technical preview in Q3 2009 and be generally available in the first half of 2010.  Beyond that, we still don’t know what will and won’t be in (though we don’t have to call it that anymore).

The part of the Exchange 2010 announcement that caught my attention is the reference to an integrated e-mail archive.  Did Microsoft just enter the email archiving market?  That would certainly be noteworthy, given that much of the hot email archiving market involves archiving Exchange email.  Since Microsoft hasn’t had a horse in this race, this has been the realm of third-party providers like Symantec and Mimosa Systems to date.

On the analyst telebriefing held today by Microsoft on this announcement, I asked about this and the role for Microsoft’s email archiving partners going forward.  Michael Atalla, Group Product Manager for Exchange at Microft told me that Microsoft is out to meet the needs of the 80% of its customers that don’t yet have any email archiving technology and that existing email archiving products serve a “niche” of the market at the high end for customers that have to meet regulatory requirements for email archiving.

While I agree there is still a lot of opportunity in the email archiving space, describing existing adoption as limited to those in regulated industries isn’t exactly accurate.

I’ve tried to dig deeper into what this integrated archive includes.  Not easy, as there is no mention of archiving at all in the TechNet docs on Exchange 2010 (though there’s quite a bit of interesting detail on records and retention management).

Best I can tell, Exchange 2010 lets you create individual or “personal archives.”  This page from Microsoft explains that a personal archive is:

an additional mailbox associated with a user’s primary mailbox.  It appears alongside the primary mailbox folders in Outlook. In this way, the user has direct access to e-mail within the archive just as they would their primary mailbox. Users can drag and drop PST files into the Personal Archive, for easier online access – and more efficient discovery by the organization. Mail items from the primary archive can also be offloaded to the Personal Archive automatically, using Retention Polices…

So it moves the PST file from the desktop to the server, which makes it more available for online searching and discovery purposes.  But is that really email archiving?  I can see how that would be attractive to end users that want an easier way to access archived emails, but it seems like it would increase the load on the mail server and not handle things like de-duping, which archiving is generally meant to address.

I’m not an expert on email archiving though.  I’d love to hear from anyone who has comments.

What will NOT be in the next version of SharePoint

I might catch a lot of readers with that title, but of course I don’t really know for sure what will and won’t be in the next version of SharePoint.  Microsoft is still mum on the topic and I suspect will remain so until the SharePoint Conference slated for October.  This event was held in March last year; it seems logical it has been delayed this year to time the event with Office 14 announcements specific to SharePoint.

I read Guy Creese’s post last week on what he thinks will be in the next version of SharePoint and like Guy, I get a lot of questions in this vein.  I agree with Guy that will have search improvements (we already know that one) and more sophisticated administration (we all hope). I’ll be surprised to see dramatic improvements in the transition between hosted and on-premise SharePoint in this version, I think the marketing is likely to lead the reality in this area for sometime to come, but perhaps I’ll be surprised.

I often get questions more specifically (from vendors) around what Microsoft isn’t going to do and reading Guy’s post, I thought it would be interesting to comment on what’s left out.

On the social software front…

There’s been some debate of late about whether or not SharePoint is an “Enterprise 2.0” tool at all (or what, in fact, that even means, if anything). But anyone who saw Lawrence Liu pitch SharePoint versus IBM Lotus Connections to a packed room at Enterprise 2.0 last year, would certainly assume Microsoft has ambitions in this area.  It’s worth noting however that Liu left Microsoft not long after that for Telligent Systems, which sells community software as an adjunct to SharePoint.  Liu presumably knows more about the SharePoint roadmap than we do, so looking at Telligent’s roadmap (limited version here) is probably a good indication of where Microsoft won’t go in social software in this next release (think community analytics, bridging internal and external communities, and feed aggregation).

It’s not about WCM.

Making SharePoint ubiquitous for content-based collaboration is Microsoft’s number one goal and this means improved admin, search and social software, to my mind.   So what will get left out?   I don’t think we’ll see any major changes on the WCM front.  Microsoft marketed the WCM capabilities in MOSS 2007 when it first came out, as it stopped development on its stand-alone WCM product, Microsoft CMS (which came from its 2001 acquisition of nCompass) in favor of Sharepoint.  But this seems to have died down and vendors like Sitecore are doing well selling more sophisticated WCM with SharePoint integrations, apparently with cooperation from Microsoft.  WCM for large, customer-facing sites, is really not where SharePoint strengths lie and Microsoft will likely let this one stand much as it is as it invests in other areas (Sitecore even sells a bundle for intranets, showing some market opportunity for WCM even in SharePoint’s sweet spot).

What about records management and archiving?

There’s some records management today in SharePoint, but it’s limited to SharePoint environments.  Improved admin across server farms could help here but it doesn’t seem likely Microsoft is going to go far beyond this and this doesn’t address the archiving issue at all.  Vendors like Open Text, Symantec and EMC are banking on their products’ abilities to manage and archive content (including email) from multiple repositories including SharePoint.  And this seems like a market that will be relatively immune to changes in — indeed, changes that make SharePoint more popular are likely only good news to these vendors, at least in the short term.

I’m sure there are other gaps vendors are filling where they may be some continued opportunity after, but those are the big ones that jump to my  mind.