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The Information Vault

The prana of business in this day and age is information. Our day in office starts with creating information in form of emails, reports and more and ends with that.

india Updated: Dec 24, 2008 19:18 IST

The prana of business in this day and age is information. Our day in office starts with creating information in form of emails, reports and more and ends with that. Thanks to the mounting information an entire industry is now built around information helping it become more accessible, keeping it secure and making it available at the right time to the right person.

Information factoids
Let’s look at some interesting facts. Studies show that average time spent by users looking for ‘stuff/ information’ at work is about 9.5 hours a week, which is actually 1 full working day in a week. This ‘search time will only increase with increasing data and information coming our way and residing in our systems, etc.

E-mail archiving, electronic discovery software, e mail security, data loss prevention. There are four categories of these and a combination of these four markets goes up to 2 billion dollars.

According to a EMC-IDC study- Information will grow at a CAGR of 57% by 2010 to reach 988 exabytes or equivalent to about 3 million times the information in all books ever written – or 12 stacks of Harry Potter books, each extending from the earth to the sun!

Most of this data will be touched by an organization along the way – on a network, in a data center, at a hosting site, at a telephone or Internet switch, or in a backup system.

Enterprise search trend is sweeping the software market today globally and in India. According to IDC, believes the market will grow at around 25% and spending will quickly surpass $1 billion.

The Information Vault
Imagine millions of bytes of information by an organization daily in form of emails, memos, reports, videos, press releases and so many other forms. Now the task is to classify the data, tag it, make it accessible when required and most importantly keep it secure.

While tech giant Microsoft has been offering solutions like Microsoft Office SharePoint server (MOSS) for sometime which makes managing information and making it accessible to the right person. On the other hand companies like Symantec are getting into end to end solutions around enterprise information offering access, management and security of information.

According to Eric Hoh Vice President, Asia South Region, Symantec, “We have technology from end to end to help a company to protect the risk of that information by securing them, managing them, as well as preventing all the bad things from coming in and also to ensure that information does not get out, that is essentially what we do.”

Organizing information
Storing and organizing information has never been such a lucrative business opportunity ever. The reason is simple as business grows or even in times of recession, information certainly grows. While filing, tagging and different models are being offered to organize and serve information. Intelligence is the keyword and most players seem to be offering solutions around that. While Microsoft has on offer an Enterprise Search Model and Content Management model to make information accessible others like Symantec are putting intelligence into the classifying the data.

Says Vishal Dhupar, Managing Director, Symantec, “You know, time based tagging is the most basic DLP that we have, today we are talking about content basis. So how do you have the intelligence to tag based on the content?” In other words it’s about working out a set of rules that involves a high degree of intelligence. Symantec emphasis on security, for obvious reasons. So what happens for confidential documents and their security. Says Vishal “So our intelligence is that we are able to block you (unauthorized users) from creating this document even if you type it on your screen and try to transmit it across the Internet, we will block that. You can create this document, zip it up 50 times, encrypt it, we are still able to search that information and say that it is illegal under the policy, your are not supposed to say this. Content based it very effective.”

On the other hand Microsoft’s enterprise search lineup helps making information become accessible. It includes Search Server 2008, and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. Express is free for download. Then there is Search Server, which is ideal for a 100-200 people company that has lots of indexing. Office SharePoint Server is for the high-end companies, where the business critical needs are higher like Wipro and Infosys. At a retail price of Search Server is Rs 15,000-20,000 for unlimited number of users plus the cost of SharePoint it may well be worth it.

Last Word
Everything in the world is made of vibrations, small digits or atoms or maybe bytes, organized so well and driven perfectly by a higher intelligence. Byte by byte our information age is being built by each one us. Mounting information will soon be organized information waiting for more to be created. These huge heaps of data require content management systems with a higher intelligence making it accessible, secure and so much more. What would be interesting to watch out for is the route content intelligence takes. The permutations and combinations are simply endless.

(Puneet Mehrotra is a columnist on technology)