E-Mail Regs Still Driving Business

For all the near-panic about complying with a daunting set of rules for public companies, a lot still needs to be done.

"People still have to interpret the rules," says Clive Horton, CEO of ReSoft International, a New Canaan, Conn.-based e-mail solution provider. "It doesn't explicitly say you have to keep e-mail, but as people look at the regulations, they realize they have to maintain audits and do other things." In fact, the market created by these rules is so strong that ReSoft has opened a practice dedicated to compliance.

For ISVs and VARs with e-mail, storage and archiving expertise, the bewildering array of regulations is almost a full-employment act. They liken the regulatory push to a "mini-Y2K" in that it is driving businesses to do things they should have been doing all along—securing and archiving e-mail, for example.

Jon Brown, vice president of C2C Systems, a U.K.-based e-mail management software company with U.S. headquarters in Springfield, Mass., estimates that only 15 percent to 20 percent of companies that need to be compliant have accomplished that.

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Smaller ISVs such as C2C and ZipLip, Mountain View, Calif., are betting they can fulfill customer needs faster and more nimbly than giants such as Veritas Software, which acquired KVS and its e-mail-archiving technology last August and is itself now being bought by Symantec. These ISVs, with their VAR partners, advise the client on priorities.

"We help not just with scalability but with requirements to supervise and surveil e-mail to make sure violations aren't happening," says Steve Chan, vice president of business development for ZipLip. Eight or 10 years ago, when most companies were deploying e-mail and bigger vendors were designing their archiving and management products, assumptions about e-mail were different, Chan said. "Nobody back then was choking on attachments the way they are now," he said. And spam had not yet reached epic proportions. The Microsoft Exchange Server and IBM Lotus Domino e-mail systems that dominate in most business environments now need third-party help, Chan and other channel players maintain

Chan says ZipLip's solution saves e-mail efficiently, in essence compressing it to a manageable size and making it more amenable to easy search and storage. Ohan Kedjidjian, solutions manager for MCSI, a data storage and access specialist in Downers Grove, Ill., said there's been a lot of interest in this field since 2002, but users still need guidance. "They have been spending for a while now. There's a steady flow of business, but it hasn't gone up like a hockey stick," he said.

Solution providers such as MCSI work with storage vendors like EMC—which now owns Legato and its e-mail-archiving expertise—as well as with instant-messaging gateway and security specialists such as Akonix Systems, San Diego; IMLogic, Waltham, Mass.; and FaceTime Communications, Foster City, Calif.

Customers are increasingly interested in bringing e-mail and ever-more-present instant-messaging applications under some sort of coherent management and archiving structure, VARs said. That need is driving solid business, especially for VARs with expertise in security, archiving and storage, said Christopher Dean, senior vice president of business development for FaceTime. Both his company and rival IMLogic are recruiting solution provider partners to meet the need.