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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jeff Barr Writes about Sonian on the AWS Blog

We're getting ready to launch the hosted email archive service this week and spent some time briefing Amazon's Jeff Barr about Sonian. Jeff posted a great summary on how Sonian works with Amazon Web Services to achieve fantastic reliability and scalability for our hosted archive service. This means all our customers benefit from the Amazon data center technology advances in virtualization, reliability, performance and security.

It's clear SaaS will play an ever larger role in IT deployments. And it's also crystal clear that cloud-compute infrastructure is the best way to deploy a SaaS system. Sonian is leading the way to the future in how SaaS should be created and managed.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Most Companies Walk a High-Wire E-Mail Risk Without a Net

Email archiving is a "cousin" to email continuity and disaster recovery. Archiving and continuity are similar to each other in that they can share some of the same storage infrastructure, and yet they are different from each other in that the reasons to implement archiving or continuity have different business drivers.

Archiving systems support the organization's need for information & knowledge management, e-discovery, compliance, litigation and cost-effective storage management. Continuity systems support the organizations need to continue to send and receive email during system outages. Another common trait is that both types of systems are best delivered as a hosted service.

Chris Preimesberger of eWeek wrote a great article about the need for a more thoughtful approach to email continuity.

A new study confirms what a great many people in IT already suspected: Companies of all sizes are vulnerable to costly and damaging e-mail outages because they trust their messaging infrastructure to a single server and do not have an adequate backup and recovery plan in case of a disaster.
We hear from many IT executives that cost is a big factor in delaying or avoiding putting an archive and continuity solution in place. Sonian hopes to change all this with our new hosted messaging solutions that dramatically lower the cost for our audience/subscribers.

U.S. OMB pushes for software as a service

This is an amazingly candid admission by a senior White House IT official. Karen Evans, speaking this week at the SaaS/Gov conference in Washington, D.C., says:

"Our track record is clear -- we are not very good at delivering our own software in the time frame set," Evans said at the conference. "We're also not very good at managing large projects."
“We can’t continue to maintain all of the things we have,” she added. “We have to start shutting down some of our legacy systems. We really have to move to a … service-oriented market.”
Michael Krigsman comments on his blog that:
By legitimizing SaaS adoption in the government, Evan’s remarks may well catalyze the entire SaaS market.
This admission is timely given all the recent negative press about the White House not managing email archives adequately for the nations best interests.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ouch: Cable Company Mistakenly Empties E-Mail Accounts

This is somewhat off topic, but relevant in a greater sense to email and SaaS issues, in that this mistake highlights the importance of maintaining a backup of hosted applications to ensure there is no chance of data loss.

ST. LOUIS — Charter Communications officials believe a software error during routine maintenance caused the company to delete the contents of 14,000 customer e-mail accounts.

There is no way to retrieve the messages, photos and other attachments that were erased from inboxes and archive folders across the country on Monday.

Sonian, a hosted archiving innovator, uses an architecture that can store your information, encrypted, in multiple redundant data centers. This is truly the best way to ensure nothing is ever lost. This is the best way to manage a long-term durable archive.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The White House Recycled Backup Tapes and Lost Important Email Records

In previous careers I was an IT consultant that helped many organizations implement data archiving and retention systems. I find it utterly amazing that one of the most important offices in our government had an apparently lax attitude about preserving important records. Several information sources are reporting very similar stories, with this quote by the White House CIO typical:

A sworn statement by the Chief Information Officer of the White House Office of Administration filed with U.S. federal court just before midnight admitted the White House had recycled its e-mail back-up tapes before October 2003 and only began retaining the back-ups starting at that point.
Various sources estimate that millions of emails have been lost because over 470 tapes were recycled and there was no proactive archive solution in place. This fiasco is sure to put a very public spotlight on the need to archive our digital correspondence.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ferris Research Comments on Sonian Archive SA2

David Ferris posted his thoughts about Sonian and highlighted our core themes very succinctly:

  • Super low fixed price (currently $3/user/month) with unlimited storage and no start up fees. This removes all the mystery around TCO and
  • Empower the business user with easy search interfaces. This removes the e-discovery burden on IT.
  • Designed for the mid-size enterprise.
David summarizes:
There's a need for a hosted service aimed at SMEs. The design goals look right for this market.

Monday, January 14, 2008

27 Billion Gigabytes to be Archived by 2010

IT executives clamor for ways to prune and centralize their mushrooming data stores.

According to Milford, Mass.-based analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., private-sector archive capacity will hit an eye-popping 27,000 petabytes by 2010.

Skyrocketing rates of e-mail growth account for much of this figure.

Cost effective storage management, which includes both live and long-term archival storage concerns, will be one of IT's greatest challenges for 2008. Live storage will remain behind the firewall to accommodate high-speed read-write access. There are different access dynamics for long-term archival storage (email, IM, SharePoint and other digital content,) which must be retained for 3-7 year retention periods. Archiving costs be managed more reliably by outsourcing to a trusted archiving service provider. Customers should look for an email archiving solution that provides unlimited storage options for a low fixed price.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Little Engine (Yard) and Web Framework that Could

Sonian uses the Ruby on Rails web framework for our customer facing user interfaces. Ruby on Rails is an advanced agile development framework that promotes efficiency & reliability and ultimately allows us to deliver better results to our customers than what is possible with a PHP/Java/C#/.net interface environment.

Today EngineYard, an early pioneer in Rails hosting and innovation, announced receiving a $3 million Series A investment round. This is great validation for Rails, and the Engine yard team.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

2008 will be the Year of SaaS and the Year of Total Sonian

I promise this is the last "projections" post for awhile. But I think it's worthwhile for our audience to know what Sonian thinks about the confluence of events that are propelling "hosted everything" into the stratosphere. In a nutshell; a craving for simplicity, affordability and accountability.

There is a prevailing attitude that IT does not need to be slaying the same dragons over and over. I talk to too many IT executives that have lost evenings and weekends to mundane archiving software re-indexing sessions, tape restores and E-discovery hurdles, and feel the pain that exists for what is essentially an unavoidable man-made problem.

2008 will be a big year for Enterprise IT SaaS adoption, and Sonian is in the perfect place to help customers abandon their outdated "ZanLegEduAtoTaz" systems and leap into the future with a hosted archiving platform that has been designed from the ground-up to work on the advanced grid environments from industry leaders such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google. This is the way forward, come with us and we will show you what is possible.

Jeff Kaplan and Phil Wainewright both posted some excellent analysis on their blogs about the top 18 reasons SaaS will succeed in 2008. Two points are worth repeating below:

3. Amazon, IBM and Google Bet on Utility Computing. After experimenting with its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for the past year, Amazon has found plenty of demand for its computing power on-demand platform from startups, as well as established companies seeking a ‘sandbox’ for their new initiatives. Amazon is now confident it can deliver its computing power in a reliable and cost-effective fashion to a broader market of business users. So, expect more aggressive PR and marketing efforts to promote and sell this powerful utility computing service.
Over a year ago Sonian made the bet that Amazon and other grid compute pioneers would be the next generation platform to launch enterprise IT solutions. We chose the "right horse" as the saying goes. Today our customers benefit from billions of IT research dollars spent on perfecting an elastic compute infrastructure that allows stellar up time with remarkably efficient cost structures.
5. SaaS Solves SOX: A year ago, most publicly traded companies and other large-scale enterprises rejected the idea of SaaS because they thought they needed to take greater responsibility for their own compliance requirements. Now, they view the process controls, auditability and offsite hosting features common in most SaaS applications as a perfect solution for their Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) needs. As a result, enterprise adoption of SaaS will accelerate.
Hosted archiving is perfect for SOX compliance requirements. SOX is an onerous IT burden, and the right SaaS solution can solve the requirement.

It May be a New Year, but the Same Archiving Misconceptions Exist

Ziff-Davis sent a timely reminder about the five common misconceptions on email archiving.

But first a recap on messaging system state of affairs:

  • We love our email. 75 percent of the content generated by employees is transmitted and stored in mail servers.
  • "IT" has difficulty balancing growing storage management costs with the retention requirements of government, industry, and corporate rules and regulations.
  • Archiving must become an essential and well-thought-out component of your IT infrastructure in order to protect critical information stored in email.
And finally:
  • If your organization's email is not archived effectively, you may face fines, lose legal battles and struggle to recover from a crisis or disaster.
  • According to a recent report from Osterman Research, 80 percent of organizations lack a true archiving solution, and 75 percent “are at risk of losing important business records contained in messaging systems.”
The five common misconceptions cited below promote risky decision making practices that can lead to problems that could have been avoided:
  1. “Our industry is not regulated, so we don’t need to archive.”
  2. “Email archiving will expose us to risk.”
  3. “Our backup system is our archive."
  4. “Exchange 2007 solves our email archive needs.”
  5. "Email archiving solutions are too expensive for our company.”
Sonian has the most cost-effective archive solution available to organizations of all sizes. Our philosophical approach is to help overwhelmed IT departments implement archiving without breaking the IT budget.

SaaS E-Discovery Brings Equality to Big and Small Firms

Brett Burney recently wrote a column SaaSsy Litigation Support for in which he discusses the pros and cons for using a hosted platform to manage e-discovery data. Brett accurately reports the major resistance to a SaaS e-discovery platform is the loss of control. But the benefits of SaaS, some of which are quoted from the article below, allow smaller firms to benefit from technology that only big firms used to be able to afford.

[...] On the other hand, a SaaS litigation review platform makes a lot of sense. Two issues that a litigation law firm's IT department wrestles with constantly are 1) providing enough storage space for litigation databases, and 2) keeping the software up-to-date while it's being used 24/7.

Those two obstacles fade away when a SaaS vendor is retained to shoulder those administrative burdens. The law firm's IT department is then free to focus on other pertinent network administrative duties.

Paying a monthly fee for a SaaS review tool is certainly a less expensive alternative for smaller firms that may not want to hire another IT professional. In addition, the small firm wouldn't have to pay for software, storage and server hardware to run the system internally.

Law Firms Struggle to Keep Up with E-Discovery Tech

Sonian's hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe, reported a timely story about law firms trying (rather quickly) to get more tech savvy in order to move from the world of "quill and paper" to a full digital office. There are many reasons for this sudden rush to embrace technology, and chief among them is the rapidly increasing need for cost-effective e-discovery platforms.

The explosion of electronic discovery has also forced law firms to become more tech-savvy.

And new federal statutes that require extensive financial reporting and electronic record-keeping, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, have forced the rapid adoption of technology in the legal profession.

The Sonian hosted archive platform ("Total Sonian") is the easiest and most cost effective email archive and e-discovery platform available. Sonian is suitable for firms of all sizes, and uses a cost plus model to ensure the e-discovery burden doesn't break the IT budget.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Fascinating new book: "Where Have all the Emails Gone?"

Hot off the press, and courtesy of Amazon Prime delivery, is David Gewirtz's new book Where Have all the Emails Gone.

This is a must read for anyone who is involved in the messaging industry and wants to learn from the mistakes of a botched real-world compliance, retention and archiving installation.

From the back cover: "Email at the White House is deep, personal, candid, unfiltered communication within the leadership of the most powerful nation on Earth... and it's very, very broken."

Enough said. Check it out for yourself.

Here come the 2008 predictions: JPMorgan says 2008 Will Be “Nothing But Net”

A new 312-page report by JPMorgan Internet analyst Imran Khan and team paints a bullish picture for the major Internet stocks (Google, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, Expedia,, Ominiture, ValueClick,, Orbitz, Priceline, CNET, etc.).

Why does this matter to the Sonian audience? Glad you asked! Sonian is at the intersection of the next wave of new Internet technology and business models, with the resulting product an efficient, reliable, affordable, easy to use web service that helps customers solve their archiving, compliance and e-discovery pain points.

Some interesting takeaways, courtesy of Techcrunch analysis:

  • Noting that, in 2007, Internet stocks delivered a 14 percent return versus 5 percent for the S&P 500, JPMorgan expects 34 percent earnings growth in 2008 for the Internet stocks it covers versus 8 percent earnings growth for the S&P 500.
  • In general, as broadband penetration continues to rise, so do e-commerce revenues.
  • Free cash flow at large Internet companies will keep going up, fueling M&A and share buybacks. JPMorgan estimates that free cash flow among just five of the top Internet companies (Google, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, and Expedia) will rise from $8.8 billion last year to $12.5 billion in 2008. That is a lot of money for Web 2.0 acquisitions. Top acquirers Yahoo and Google, for instance, each spend about a third of their free cash flow on acquisitions.
  • As global GDP continues to grow faster than U.S. GDP (3.9 percent versus 2.2 percent in 2007), Internet companies with global reach will benefit. Amazon, eBay, and Google all get about half their revenues from international markets. Yahoo gets only a quarter of its revenues from abroad.