Suppliers Say BlackBerry Archiving Is Advancing

BlackBerry posts are key to compliance - or nailing the boss in illicit sex

May 16, 2008

5 Min Read
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Email archiving is a key IT responsibility these days, thanks to increased use of data in corporate litigation. Now, instant messages from corporate BlackBerries are getting the same scrutiny. And more suppliers are looking to help companies make sure they're covered.

"Many IT managers have not been able to monitor or archive workers' text messages, leaving financial institutions and other organizations vulnerable to compliances issues and fines, as well as loss of intellectual property," said Don Montgomery, VP of marketing at Akonix, an IM policy management software vendor based in San Diego, in a statement.

Another supplier takes a slightly different angle: "Sure, companies need compliance. But often it's about sex -- who's having sex with whom!" says Richard Bliss, VP of marketing at Gwava, a Montreal-based supplier of products focused mainly on Novell GroupWise environments.

Whether it's a mayor, a university administrator, a lawyer acting improperly, or a key executive for a conservative company, there have been many unfortunate folk whose jobs have been on the line after Gwava's deployed, Bliss says.

Akonix and Gwava are among a small group of vendors specializing in gathering BlackBerry data and making it searchable. Akonix, for instance, recently announced L7 Enterprise for the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution, a package that is part of the vendor's larger L7 Enterprise for setting policy and security on IM. The new module automatically collects all kinds of BlackBerry messages, including not only SMS and pin-to-pin messages, but also email and public IM messages, and makes the results searchable.Similarly, Gwava's Retain for BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is sold as a quick and easy way to load up all archived BlackBerry communications, including the phone logs as well as tough-to-obtain SMS and pin-to-pin messages, and search them for instant revelations on content.

Another outfit, CommonDesk Inc. of New York City, offers a Compliance Engine for RIM BlackBerry to organize and archive messages and save them along with SEC-required historical data for up to seven years. An accompanying PINcushion for BlackBerry includes client software (under 64 kbytes, the vendor insists) for BlackBerry smartphones.

Akonix, CommonDesk, and Gwava claim their main value is in the way their data is delivered, rather than in the delivery itself.

"It's not that we get data that isn't accessible to anyone else," Bliss says. "But where you see us having success is in providing access to that data in a way that's usable. We do it all from the BlackBerry server, without touching the [smartphone] device. The end user can't circumvent the solution, and no client software is required."

The vendors also tie in with existing email servers and archiving products. In addition to offering BlackBerry data within its own console that also controls policy and security for email, IM, and fax, Akonix exports its data to archiving products such as C2C's Archive One, EMC's EmailXtender, HP's Integrated Archive Platform, Quest Archive Manager, and Symantec Enterprise Vault.Some of these products, such as HP's, rely on Akonix: "Akonix packages IM conversations into email and pushes [them] to HPs Integrated Archive Platform where the information can be indexed and stored for fast search and accessibility. HP currently does not have its own IM connectors," states Randy Serafini, product marketing manager for HP's Integrated Archive Platform, in an email.

EMC insists it does not rely on Akonix, even though it's offered by EMC: "Our consulting organization has also built a BlackBerry capture capability set. So we can offer customers integration with Akonix or a native Documentum capability from our consulting group," says EMC spokesman Craig Librett.

Rather than creating direct integration with specific packages, Gwava puts all of its data into an SQL Server format that can be integrated by a supplier or enterprise as part of a custom solution. Unlike its other products, however, which interact directly with Novell GroupWise, Gwava's Retain for BES does not require GroupWise. "

CommonDesk says its software integrates with Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, Symantec Enterprise Vault, and Computer Associates CAMM.

These solutions, while not cheap, aren't particularly costly: Akonix charges begin at about $5 per seat, plus $5,995 for the basic server platform appliance. Gwava charges customers 40 percent of any discounted BlackBerry licensing price.A key question is whether there will ever be a tighter integration between the kind of "BlackBerry picking" done by Akonix and others and archiving -- or whether they will continue to live in separate but linked worlds. Symantec's purchase of IMLogic in 2006 was one indication things might converge more. So far, though, that hasn't happened.

"Most of IM management vendors, including Akonix, haven't been able to make a business out of archiving," says analyst Brian Babineau of the Enterprise Strategy Group. "They all offer IM security as well, which has been where most of demand is." While some email archiving vendors haven't found the need to own this kind of technology, partnering has been a solution, he notes.

But Babineau thinks all the partnering has its limits: "At some point, these email archive vendors are going to have to make a decision -- buy it or develop on their own. There isn't enough business upside to keep all the partnerships. Customers want unified archive solutions." Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Akonix Systems Inc.

  • C2C Systems

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Gwava Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL)

  • Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) (Nasdaq: RIMM; Toronto: RIM)

  • Symantec Corp.

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