Messaging- and storage compliance technologies on the rise

I need to be seen as an ethical corporation. That affects my stock price, that affects whether customers are retained — whether there’s a leak or not.”

These messaging-compliance technologies are still young. Research firm Radicati Group estimates the market will reach $670 million worldwide this year and more than triple in size by 2011. There are still some teething problems afflicting compliance technologies, but Radicati analyst Masha Khmartseva says that “Very soon, everything is going to be controlled,” Khmartseva said. “At least that’s the idea. We’ll see how it’s going to happen.”

The use of e-mail in intentional or unintentional violations of privacy and secrecty government regiulations ad corporate policiesl is just one part of the equation, so the leading compliance products burrow deeper. They can examine documents sitting on file servers and information inside databases to determine whether some grain — a customer account number, a valuable trade secret — has landed where it should not. They can prevent files from being transferred to portable USB drives or iPods — or be set to let only certain higher-ups do it. These steps are important because finding sensitive data in an inappropriate location is key to making sure it can not accidentally be sent out. “Information is like water, and it flows everywhere,” says John Amaral, chief technology officer at Denver, Colorado-based compliance-tech vendor Vericept. “The problem is, you might know where the one genesis document is, but you don’t have any idea where all the (replications are) on thumb drives, content-management and e-mail systems. It gets created by normal, everyday business activities.” The software often alerts compliance officers of such finds, but Joseph Ansanelli, CEO of San Francisco-based vendor Vontu says that more and more, the software will be asked to automatically fix such messes by itself.

Some worry that the growing presence of in-depth compliance technologies would raise questions about the privacy of the organization’s employees, whose e-mails and files would be monitored in ever-greater detail. For now at least, the rise of compliance-watchdog software does not appear to be provoking an outcry. It may well be a sign of the times. “Notions of security and compliance are, frankly, viewed differently than they were 10 years ago,” says Orchestria’s director of sales consulting, David Miller. “We live in a time when compliance and security are critical disciplines, and people accept that. People’s expectations are different now. They want to be protected from themselves.”