Oracle is announcing a new addition to their content management portfolio and Fusion Middleware stack today. The product is called Universal Online Archive and if you’re having the same thought I did when I heard the name, you’re thinking its a SAAS app but it’s not(though that would be pretty cool). Rather it’s a fairly robust content repository geared towards supporting the incredible needs of enterprise compliance and e-discoveries.
From a technical perspective, they’ve described it as “a stripped down version of Content DB”. Content DB if you recall was Oracle’s content management system before acquiring Stellent. I’ve only played with it briefly(and even then I was actually tinkering with Web Center), but from what I recall it was a simple content management system built on Oracle’s database. I’m not exactly sure how successful Content DB was or was not in it’s original form, though I recall it being rated a middle of the pack player by most reviews. In it’s new form as UOA, I think it shows a great deal of promise though, here’s why:
The 11g Database’s new SecureFiles features - I’ve found an excellent article that explains what they are and how to use them much better that I probably could but here’s the gist: With 11g, files stored in the database can be encrypted, compressed and most importantly, de-duped. That’s right, if two different people save the same file to the database twice, 11g will figure out that the file is a duplicate and save the file only once.
That multi-BILLION dollar compliance, retention and e-discovery industry – There is an absolutly breathtaking amount of money being spent by public, private and non-profit corporatations to:
- Automate compliance enforcement policies
- Store required and critical business information
- Delete non-critical business information
- And most expensive of all – allow the discovery lawyers find that retained information quickly…remember they bill by the hour
I tried to do a little informal research to find a dollar value for how large this industry is. In that process I ran across a great article of e-discovery horror stories..(though it does include a Forester projection of 4.8 billion in technology spending for e-discovery by 2011). Here’s an excerpt that caught my eye:
When a business cannot produce data subject to discovery that it should have stored, per its own policies, regulators can assess it huge fines — as Morgan Stanley and UBS, among others, have found out. In separate lawsuits, the financial institutions lost their cases because of their failures to adequately produce E-mail evidence and the resulting assumption that evidence was willfully destroyed or withheld. Laura Zubulake, a former UBS employee, was awarded $29 million in 2005 in her sexual discrimination lawsuit. And billionaire Ronald Perelman was awarded $1.45 billion in 2005 based on his claim that Morgan Stanley defrauded him in the 1998 sale of his company, Coleman.
WOW!…that’s a heck of alot of dough for some missing emails. Regardless of whether Morgan Stanley and UBS were right or wrong in those cases, I think any of us working in a modern office could imagine how this could happen, there’s just lots of stuff everywhere. Can you just imagine how much time, effort and money went in to trying to finding those missing emails?
Where does Universal Online Archive Fit In?
I think what Oracle is trying to do with UOA is develop an infrastructure application that will site behind all of the other systems and allow retention and retention policies to occur and be managed centrally. Where I think they are doing it right is by not trying to force companies in to replacing their current applications. I don’t think anyone would be interested in another exchange or another sharepoint just to implement better compliance software. The current version of UOA will ship with an connector for email servers, but also include a connector API for developing additional custom integrations(there is also a connector for Universal Records Management).
1GB of storage costs around 20 cents to buy — 1GB of storage costs around $3,500 to review
I’m not sure how the $3500 per gig figure was reached or even whether it was just off the cuff to make a point about the cost of information. It’s pretty clear though that there is a significant cost beyond just hardware for retaining information, and actually a pretty significant cost as well for not retaining information too. I think what Oracle is going for is the two pronged approach of both lowering the risk of not retaining by making it easy to do so and also lowering that per-gig cost for an e-discovery by keeping it easy to find. Seems like a good idea…we’ll see how it goes.