As analysts within the electronically stored information (ESI) space, DCIG pays close attention to not only features and benefits of specific products and solutions but also monitors other articles, blogs, and columns in the broader market place about specific vendors. In instances where allegations are made, it then tries to sort fact from fiction and present a more complete picture. Recently, some allegations about Autonomy have surfaced that sparked interest at DCIG as to their accuracy. To try to shed some light on the subject and move the conversation beyond hearsay to actual fact, DCIG contacted Autonomy about some statements that recently appeared online to clear the air for ourselves, as well as for our readers, at to what the recent changes at Autonomy mean for companies that currently rely upon or are looking to select Autonomy’s archiving solutions.
One comment that appeared a few months ago on David Ferris‘s blog included the posting of an anonymous note that he had received about Autonomy’s recent decision to close its office in Ottawa and move these employees to another location. It specifically questioned how this would affect the development efforts of Autonomy’s ZANTAZ Enterprise Archiving Solutions (EAS) since it closed the office where EAS developers had previously resided. A comment on another site alleges that Autonomy has relegated EAS to strictly maintenance mode and has no further development planned. To us, it seems odd that Autonomy, whose strategic direction is to continue providing eDiscovery solutions, would decide to let this product languish as email archiving is a key component of their overall solution.
DCIG found out that these comments regarding the EAS developers do not paint a complete picture. Autonomy chose to shut down the Ottawa office, which contained only 15 or so EAS developers, for the purpose of co-locating EAS R&D with Autonomy’s developers in Calgary, Alberta and Cambridge, England. According to Autonomy’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Peter Menell, Autonomy expanded EAS development to 40 PhD engineers and co-located them with their core development organization to leverage the IDOL platform and eDiscovery applications with the EAS archive. This move of development and increase in head count has enabled Autonomy to become more aggressive in deeply merging IDOL development with the business functions that EAS serves.
By combining these development teams, Autonomy now has a dedicated group focused on archiving and eliminates the island of development that Ottawa had inadvertently become. Placing EAS, IDOL and content indexing developers next to each of these two areas has enabled Autonomy to better leverage their individual expertise across Autonomy’s information infrastructure platform, IDOL, the IDOL KeyView connector set and audio and then combines them with all aspects of the new EAS product line.
In talking with Brian Weiss, Autonomy’s VP of Products who was with Zantaz for five years before the Autonomy acquisition, he confirmed that the integration with EAS and IDOL is moving forward and fully complete in some areas. Already companies can do full content-based indexed searches using IDOL across EAS archives and, using IDOL’s advanced analytics, can create content maps and establish patterns of communication that reach into the EAS archives. Broad areas of application for this integrated functionality include eDiscovery, records management applications, and supervision applications that go directly against the archive, though this last feature is most likely to be used primarily in banks.
The impetus in bringing these different platforms together was driven in part by feedback that Autonomy is receiving from its customer base and sales force out in the field. While the initial conversations between customers and their sales team often initially revolve around email archiving, they quickly broaden to discussions that encompass archiving and eDiscovery functions such as legal hold for a much broader range of ESI. These include audio (phone conversations), Bloomberg Message System, file servers, SharePoint and even video is starting to enter into the mix. To manage and archive data across this spectrum of data stores requires solutions that do more than just email archiving.
In examining Autonomy’s Annual Reports from the past few years, Autonomy currently has one of the highest R&D spends in the software sector (which it also highlights regularly in its quarterly earnings call) plus over 500 people in R&D. But in order for Autonomy to continue to secure customer deals that range in value from $20M to $70M, EAS must remain a key component of its overall solution set. Therefore it makes no sense for them to abandon development or support of EAS as some have suggested. Rather, all indications are that it is fully committed to the development of this product.
To understand where Autonomy wants to do with its suite of products, it is important that followers of this space avoid taking a narrow view of Autonomy’s true market play. DCIG views Autonomy as having the tools at its disposal so it can leverage its core competency to manage all types of unstructured data to help organizations archive and search across all types of corporate communications.
Autonomy views archiving as more than just email management or a means to an end. Instead, it takes the approach that while archiving is important, corporate data resides in multiple places in an organization and is equally important as email. Autonomy’s investment in enterprise search technology is becoming a critical need with increased regulations and litigation which now spans across instant messaging, chat and audio. This holistic view of information enables companies and/or auditors to perform air-gap analysis so they can understand when and why communication channels are quickly changed by individuals, from email to phone for example, as a way of detecting possible fraud or insider trading.
DCIG thinks it safe to conclude that any comments to the effect that Autonomy intends to drop support or cease development on EAS are unfounded. Rather, DCIG holds the position that if Autonomy intends to continue to compete in the enterprise space, it needs to develop and support EAS to remain competitive.
Case in point, Autonomy’s latest versions of Investigator and ECA analyze all types of ESI to swiftly ascertain whether there is a case before “meet and confers” occurs. This gives companies the flexibility to macro-evaluate a case based on understanding concepts, establishing links between audio recordings and emails, and automating the preservation of relevant data through linkage with Autonomy Legal Hold.
All companies shift gears or refocus from time to time and Autonomy is no exception. Autonomy’s recent tactical changes and consolidation of offices appear part of its broader intent to bring EAS more in line with their overall product suite and accomplish more strategic objectives.