LiveOffice aims to improve e-mail archiving for small to midsize businesses as well as provide better backup and security with a new hosted offering called Mail Archive.
The privately held e-mail services provider believes SMBs, especially those in regulated industries, are eager for a technology that offers simple archiving without any hardware costs and security of mind if and when e-mail retrieval is required.
"This not only provides a complete audit trail, but it takes care of the storage issue as well," Anthony Seyboth, national sales manager, told InternetNews.com, noting that software-as-a-service, or SaaS (define), products provides encryption, storage indexing as well as replication for disaster-recovery purposes.
Mail Archive offers unlimited mailbox storage capacity.
"We're not trying to be everything in terms of e-mail archiving but help IT manage the Exchange environment and ensure e-mail security," he said.
In pushing out a software-as-a-service archival tool, LiveOffice has moved a step ahead of some formidable competitors in the SMB backup and storage space that are expected to offer e-mail archival services shortly.
One is EMC (NYSE: EMC), which pulled in its SMB backup technology portfolio by purchasing Mozy.
Another is security player Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC), which pumped up its data protection and backup products with the acquisition of Veritas.
Vendor competition promises to spike, as the e-mail archiving market is predicted to swell from $1.7 billion to $6.6 billion by 2012, according to analyst firm Radicati Group.
Compliance mandates and efforts to better document business interactions are cited as main factors propelling companies to archive and better retain messaging files.
"They've [LiveOffice] taken a small jump ahead of those players [EMC, Symantec]," Jo Maitland, Forrester Research (NASDAQ: FORR) senior analyst, told InternetNews.com.
A SaaS offering will appeal to SMBs, Maitland said, as it simplifies the challenges involved.
While more than a few e-mail archival tools are available, most are aimed at bigger enterprises and aren't a good fit for SMBs, she explained.
"The smaller company doesn't want to pay for the sophistication of those tools as they don't need such sophistication," Maitland said.
Yet the SaaS model poses challenges, she added, as handing off critical data is still a concern for enterprises big and small.
Radicati research reports that more than 76 percent of all archiving offerings are now on-premises solutions, but hosted solutions are gaining favor thanks to their lower costs and easy deployment.
"E-mail is a critical application and enterprises need to ask about security with hosted services," Maitland said. "They should ask the provider how are you securing my e-mail boxes, what procedures are you doing to lock down the data,"