My Top 3
There is no bigger idea in enterprise technology than the idea of “cloud computing“. What does it mean? Simply put, the idea is that enterprises will cease to buy hardware, software, and all the headaches that come with them. Instead, companies will rent whatever applications they need and access them over the internet. Software vendors will keep their applications on a pool of shared infrastructure (the cloud), which will automatically allocate resources between applications according to demand. Using a common analogy, we will move from today’s world where companies are buying and building their own electricity generators, to a world where there are power companies distributing electricity over a grid.
To get a sense for how this might happen, just take a look at the CRM market. Ten years ago, Siebel and other packaged software vendors were among the fastest growing companies in America. Today, they are shrinking as customers migrate en masse to, for example, salesforce.com’s cloud-based approach. One Wall Street analyst I spoke to last week forecast that hosted (i.e., cloud-based) applications will grow their market share from 12% to 21% by 2011, and account for all growth in the market.
E-discovery is no exception to this mega-trend, and I expect a portion of the e-discovery software business to move to the cloud. How quickly this happens depends on how easy it is for companies to adopt cloud-based e-discovery solutions, which is why Google’s recent moves into e-discovery are so significant.
Google is by far the largest cloud computing company in the world. Its cloud-based Google Apps suite of applications was only launched in 2007, but is already being used by several hundred thousand businesses and, Google tells me, 2,000 new businesses sign up every day. Today, the customers are mainly small to medium sized businesses (500-5,000 employees). But as its functionality improves, larger companies will increasingly start asking why they should pay for Microsoft Office when cheaper alternatives exist.
Talking to Bill Kee, a product marketing manager at Google, it’s clear the biggest gap in Google Apps’ functionality was the lack of enterprise features around security, compliance, and e-discovery. That’s why Google acquired Postini, a leader in messaging security. It’s why Google recently launched Message Discovery, a hosted archive that comes bundled into Google Apps Premier Edition. And it’s why Google is collaborating with Clearwell to educate the market on cloud-based e-discovery solutions.
If you are interested in learning more about e-discovery in the cloud, register for a free webinar which we are hosting with Google on June 3.