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Beyond Exchange Migrations, Governance Is an Emerging Partner Opportunity

Microsoft Exchange migrations are a hot topic right now. Microsoft's new Office 365 FastTrack Onboarding service has raised concerns of a diminished role for partners in the transition to the cloud (see "Microsoft Takes Some Office 365 Deployments In-House"). But there are ISVs and partners feeling bullish about the services clients need that follow and augment the migration process.

Gartner has even chimed in to recognize a growing need for solutions that address the age-old problems of e-mail, including information governance and e-discovery.

Migrations as a Beginning
As evidenced by the Office 365 FastTrack Onboarding service, Microsoft is just as focused on user adoption as it is on sales. Reducing the barriers to migrating data to the cloud means that more companies give users access to both current and historic e-mails in one place.

Dan Langille, vice president of business development for Bishop Technologies, agrees with the strategy. "The value to the partner is in getting the customer into the cloud faster. You add value through Yammer, CRM Online, SharePoint Online, and wrap services around those with Windows Intune and StorSimple for backup and recovery."

For Bishop, an additional opportunity comes through replacing its clients' in-house archiving solutions. "In the early days, Exchange wasn't built to house large quantities of e-mail data, which is why the archive tools were born," Langille said. "The model was to move Exchange data to an archive. Users could have as much data as they wanted, they just had to go to the archive to get it. With [Microsoft] Azure and Office 365, it has come full circle. It's no longer move to manage. It's manage in place."

"When we are migrating an archive, it's not uncommon for us to be putting tens or hundreds of terabytes of compressed data into the cloud. That's about 60 terabytes uncompressed," he also noted. "That's a lot of unstructured data to manage when you are used to controlling it through a third-party archive."

Opportunity in Information Governance
To respond to the need for information governance in the cloud, Bishop has partnered with Acaveo. Recognized by Gartner in its recent report, "Cool Vendors in Information Governance and MDM, 2014," Acaveo's flagship Smart Information Server (SIS) product enables IT teams to analyze and control large unstructured data volumes.

The Gartner report predicted that information governance is poised to become a top IT issue. "Massive data growth, new data types, litigation, regulatory scrutiny and privacy/information risks have all created an urgent need for information governance," the firm said.

Acaveo's timing was fortuitous. "We launched [SIS] about a year ago and within a few weeks of announcing the product to the world, Gartner identified a new technology category that is aimed at giving companies actionable understanding of their internal, employee generated data," said Geoff Bourgeois, CTO of Acaveo. "Since then, Gartner forecasts that this new technology category is in the early stages and will progress through the technology maturity curve."

Two-Fold Partner Opportunity
Langille believes that Acaveo provides two paths of opportunity in working with clients on cloud readiness. The first is in replacing third-party archives. Clients are anxious to get rid of on-premises archives because of the ongoing licensing expense, as well as the time required to manage them. Bishop has over 200 existing clients who still depend on third-party archives. SIS provides those clients with a solution to effectively manage in place, so they don't have to deal with another silo of data.

In addition, and perhaps more importantly, SIS offers enhanced e-discovery functionality. "The e-discover program allows us to do an assessment on the client's unstructured data," Langille said. "It deploys in a matter of minutes, which is an important success factor in the cloud world. We find that the IT folks are often shocked by what data is out there, like SharePoint sites that they didn't know existed. It's a real eye-opener and the often say, 'I'm really glad we brought you in.'"

SIS also allows partners to offer a solution to the issue of data proliferation. "We can also implement a defensible deletion strategy to get rid of data that is duplicate or trivial. Statistics show that upwards of 60 percent of data is outdated, redundant or trivial. That's data you don't have to retain on-premise or move to the cloud, which saves them money," Langille explained. "Secondly, if they do end up in a legal case, SIS sits upstream of the discovery process and reduces the data going through the discovery service. That can provide huge savings, since every gigabyte of data going through the discovery process can cost 18,000 to 30,000 per gig."

SIS provides visualization and collection of the identities, data and permissions across Box, Office 365, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Exchange Server and file shares. For Bishop, SIS helps the company provide clients with actionable insights into the unstructured data that resides in the cloud and on-premises. The reality of information governance may finally have arrived.

For some partners, Exchange migrations are seen as the end of a process. For others the migration is just the start. "Information governance" is certainly not a new term, but we may be hearing it a lot more, as a growing number of organizations need to take a unified approach to unstructured data spanning across cloud, on-premises and everything in between.

How are you helping clients address information governance? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on September 10, 2014


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