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Mimecast and file server destruction

Online mail services lead to filer destruction - maybe

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The company is making progress, gaining customers and even capturing customers moving away from MessageLabs and WebSense, according to Murray.

Mimecast offers a Time Machine for business capability, it being able to respond to requests to restore Joe.business's MyBusiness directory on date and time X. All the content is stored with data and time and more meta-data enabling this kind of restoration, and even reconstruction, to be carried out.

Filer supplier dilemma

Here's the filer supplier dilemma coming.

Murray says Mimecast provides three key email benefits: archiving, hygiene and continuity. These are being extended to cover general files, then SharePoint and, no doubt, even more content types in future.

As customers are handing their data over to Mimecast they are thinking about, and being asked about, backing up that content. Mimecast protects it for them, offering business continuity and disaster recovery services for the data, so customers don't need to do it themselves.

Mimecast extends its content type to general documents and more and more of this customer data gets handed over.

Murray says: "We could have end users mapping files to our drives [in the cloud]", to an M: drive, a logical drive built and presented from Mimecast's grid infrastructure. He goes on: "We round up the docs and then we're in a very strong position to say to business, stop backing up." Mimecast will already have the data and it doesn't need protecting further, customers will no longer need to back it up to virtual tape libraries or to real tape libraries.

In fact, with his view, customers no longer even have to store it themselves. They don't need to buy file storage arrays that store the data, snapshot it, replicate it to remote sites, and deduplicate it. A whole file-based system infrastructure becomes redundant as - if - a Nick Carr-type Big Switch happens and content storage and processing moves into the cloud.

What does this mean for existing suppliers?

Multi-play suppliers, such as backup vendors like Symantec and EMC, are moving to add cloud backup services. The road is open for EMC to combine its Mozy cloud backup and backup software with its Documentum ECM offerings into an aggregated cloud content management (capture, protection, access, search, etc.) service.

But Murray thinks that pure play vendors in this aggregating space will be in trouble as customers hand over the multifarious parts of their existing infrastructure to cloud content management suppliers - which is what Mimecast is becoming. A filer supplier currently offering storage arrays which snapshot, replicate, RAID protect, deduplicate and/or offer VTL functions will find its storage management function IP is no longer needed. The 10-year trend that Murray is seeing here leads inevitably, if he is right, to the destruction of the filer business.

Of course, this means that you have to take the view that private clouds won't happen and that a mass move of data into external clouds won't happen either. Today's cloud hype is just as fatuous as previous ASP (Application Service Provider) expectations.

Of course, again and in turn, this means you have to say that Salesforce.com, Google, Amazon and other cloud software service providers are not Big Switch harbingers at all, merely one-off wonders. Which way do you think things will go? If you are a product or service supplier to customers in this area, which way are you going to bet your company? ®

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