Two announcements from Google caught my eye on Tuesday: one that would make investigators’ life more difficult, and another that would make it easier. Since the first is more humorous, it appears to have got more attention; but it’s the second that’s much more significant.
In his post introducing Google Message Discovery, Bill Kee explains that it’s a hosted email archiving service that captures every message, enforces retention policies, and (no surprise!) provides comprehensive search functionality. It comes included in Google Apps Premier Edition, and its cost starts at $25 per mailbox per year.
This is an interesting move when viewed in a broader context. In the enterprise market, Google Apps is seeking to do to Microsoft Office/Exchange what salesforce.com did to Siebel – i.e., provide 80% of the functionality at 20% of the cost. The beach-head for Google into the enterprise is Gmail: if enterprises adopt that as their email platform, then adoption of other Google applications will quickly follow. But enterprises are reluctant to embrace Gmail until it provides enterprise class security, anti-spam, anti-virus, etc. What Google is saying with Message Discovery is that “must-have” list of functionality also includes email archiving.
My view is that the list of functionality that enterprises expect from their email systems also includes ediscovery. It’s great to have keyword search on an archive, but that only gets you a first cut of the data that’s potentially responsive to a case. If your only choice is to then send all of that to a service provider for processing, then you will likely give up the cost savings that prompted you to adopt Gmail in the first place. Conversely, if you can de-duplicate, filter, analyze, and review the information to cull it down to only the small set of relevant data prior to exporting it out of Gmail, then you build on the cost and functionality advantages that Gmail has over its competitors.
My guess is that the clever folks at Google already know this. After all, why else would they call their new email archive “Google Message Discovery” as opposed to “Google Message Archiving”?
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