New SharePoint Sheriff In Town

Autonomy ControlPoint aims to bring governance to the wild west of SharePoint content. But does SharePoint need it?
Autonomy ControlPoint aims to bring governance to the wild west of SharePoint content. But does SharePoint need it?Autonomy's ControlPoint, announced today, aims to help IT and compliance officers get a handle on content being created and shared in SharePoint servers.

The software, which requires Automony's Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) platform, lets IT set governance policies, including classification, preservation, and disposition, for content across the entire SharePoint infrastructure.

"We can connect to the source and pull it into IDOL infrastructure. It indexes the content, understands the relationships, and from IDOL we can apply workflow and policy management," says Andrew Joiner, VP of information and risk management at Autonomy.

For existing Autonomy customers, ControlPoint is a great add-on, particularly for large, distributed organizations where SharePoint deployments may not be uniformly managed. In particular, companies with significant e-discovery burdens need both policies and technology to identify, preserve, and collect electronic information that may be relevant to a lawsuit.

Uniform retention, disposition, and records management policies and technologies also are necessary for enterprises to deal strategically with the ever-growing volumes of unstructured and semi-structured data.

That said, I don't see ControlPoint driving a lot of new business for Autonomy. One reason is SharePoint already offers a basic set of content and records management features. Companies weighing the cost of an IDOL deployment against making due with SharePoint's native governance capabilities may be content to wait on Microsoft to beef up SharePoint's feature set.

Second, legacy content and records management vendors also are responding to SharePoint's massive deployment numbers -- Microsoft says it has passed 100 million user licenses -- with new integration initiatives.

This October, OpenText announced a new storage service for SharePoint. SharePoint stores content and metadata in Microsoft SQL Server databases. As content volumes grow, IT has to license and deploy more SQL Servers. OpenText's new service lets IT move content from SQL Servers into an OpenText repository, which may be on less expensive media.

This new service also can run in conjunction with Open Text's Content Lifecycle Management Services for SharePoint, which lets IT capture and manage content created in SharePoint.

Also, EMC released Documentum 6.5 this summer. Part of that release included Federated Records Services. As I wrote in a blog, FRS makes Documentum the rules engine for content in third-party repositories, including SharePoint.

The third reason is Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS). This proposed standard aims to make it easier for users and apps to access content from proprietary content management systems. If this proposal matures into a successful standard, it will make it much easier for IT to apply policies to content stored in different repositories.

All of this activity makes it harder for Autonomy to use IT concerns about ungovernable SharePoint content as leverage to attract new IDOL customers.

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