One of the barriers that people put up against using Google Apps within enterprise is the apparent lack of robust functionality that the largest enterprises require. A big part of this lacking functionality lies in the e-discovery of documents, the ability to apply governance to information assets and to archive and manage those assets. Especially in a highly litigious country like the US, governance over information assets is a non-negotiable requirement and something that the more traditional vendors have been able to hold over Google Apps.

That is now changing with the launch today of Google Vault, a data management and preservation offering that sits alongside Google Apps. The idea of Vault is to provide an archive for data to ensure that eDiscovery can occur in the event of litigation. Vault allows for the search and management of email and chat across different terms, dates, senders, recipients and labels.

Vault is built on the same infrastructure as Google Apps – which may be a barrier to some customer who want to see certainty as to exactly where their archiving actually resides. As with all other Google products, it’s up there, in the cloud someplace. That works fine for me, but may not work so well for legal counsel.

Vault is priced at $5 per user per month – a pretty minimal fee when one considers the price of on-premise eDiscovery solutions.

I put it to Google that it seems logical that Vault would include ALL digital assets from an organization and that including Docs in with the offering would not only make sense, but would be a base requirement for many users. I got a typical “cannot confirm nor deny” response but my sense is that we’ll be seeing Vault extend to the entire Apps offering very soon. In fact in their messaging around Vault, Google even articulates Vault as helping to “retain business documents” (see below)

Specific Vault functionality includes;

  • Archive and manage in place – A single archive for Gmail and on-the-record chat messages, built on Gmail, where the data is managed in-place. Governance policies are applied directly to the native data store, eliminating the need to duplicate data in a separate archive and helping to reduce the risks associated with data movement and from spoliation. A robust audit trail provides complete visibility across the archive.
  • Retain business documents – Email and chat retention policies allow businesses to define standard retention policies for Gmail and on-the-record chat messages based on content, labels, and metadata. Once a message reaches the end of the retention period, Google Apps Vault automates compliance with the retention policies. The automated enforcement of policies, as well as legal holds, reduces the risks of spoliation and noncompliance. The legal hold functionality helps ensure email and chat messages can be preserved beyond their standard retention period for a litigation or an investigation.
  • Find relevant documents – eDiscovery tools allow authorized users to search across the domain for data that may be relevant to a specific matter or investigation. Google search algorithms can search domain wide, across large amounts of email in the archive and quickly return results. Authorized users can define and manage collections of message search results and collaborate with others to manage them. Email can be exported for further review and processing.
  • Designed for security – Google Apps Vault is designed for security and reliability with features like encrypted connections to Google’s servers, redundant backup, built-in disaster recovery and sharing controls that let your users collaborate securely on matters.

MyPOV – These sort of features are seemingly boring, but they’re also bottom line requirements for the largest of enterprises – with Vault, Google has shot another arrow through the hearts of the traditional enterprise vendors.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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