Leading e-mail archiving software providers, such as Zantaz, KVS and iLumin, have become so successful, it's caused some analysts to wonder if a full ECM solution is even necessary.
Noting that a great deal of current data glut comes from e-mail, Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Peter Gerr said the fundamental features of e-mail archiving make it complete enough for some businesses.
The ability to quickly keep files from being deleted or altered, combined with the practice of retrieving e-mail, lowers storage costs and improves an organization's ability to retain records and protect intellectual property. That's about all some corporate customers are looking for in terms of content management, Gerr said.
''I believe with ECM, solutions from Documentum, FileNet and Hummingbird may be seen as invasive by some companies. They're kind of the ERP of the 21st century in that they take years to get right,'' Gerr said.
He argued that it is a lot easier to see ROI from e-mail archiving than it is for most companies with an ECM solution. For one, he said, e-mail is universal. For another, ''ECM disrupts business processes.''
Meanwhile, the burgeoning e-mail archiving market won't be stopped, said IDC senior analyst Julie Rahal Marobella, who predicted it would enjoy a compound annual growth rate of more than 50 percent through 2008.
Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA and other regulatory mandates have sparked a good deal of consolidation among rivals looking to milk this new cash cow, triggered in 2003 by EMC's acquisition of Legato. Analysts expect this trend to continue.
Leaders Are Optimistic
Such endorsements could open new doors for market leaders. While Marobella declined to provide exact market share figures, she did pronounce Zantaz the market leader in terms of revenue for 2003, followed by KVS and iLumin.
Zantaz has an ace in its deck, said CEO Steve King. The company provides two types of e-mail archiving -- hosted and on-site software at a time when most vendors just sell software and tell customers to install it and run it themselves.
''Most of our competitors sell software, and most of the hosted players are hosting it from one of the other providers,'' King said. ''So our differentiation is not that we have hosting, but that we have both.''
While its purchase of Educom gave Zantaz on-site software, its SteelPoint buy also gave the company a strong presence in discovery software and litigation support. King said this is compelling for customers who need the expertise to not only find files, but fork them over to meet subpoena requests.
Marobella and Gerr agree, but they also believe Zantaz has able competitors in iLumin and KVS, which was acquired by Veritas. Veritas itself is in the process of being swallowed up by Symantec, further highlighting the consolidation among companies that manage, protect and serve corporate data.
Jeremy Burton, executive vice president of products at Veritas, said KVS was the obvious choice for Veritas among the sea of smaller vendors for two reasons: The company focused on supporting Microsoft Exchange better than anyone, and the product had an ''elegant architecture.''