IBM, Synergy Plus join to tackle email quandary

IBM, Synergy Plus join to tackle email quandary

IBM and reseller, Synergy Plus, have joined together to bundle an email management and archiving solution for the SME market.

The two companies have put together a bundle that includes IBM Software’s content management solution (modified by Synergy Plus), Windows 2000 Server, an IBM xSeries server, tape unit and monitor, as well as the IP, training and other professional services (provided by Synergy Plus) required to implement the solution.

Synergy Plus chief executive officer, Bill Votsaris, said it was essentially an email management and archiving solution, including hardware, software and services, delivered “out of the box” for administrators of both Notes and Exchange systems.

Synergy Plus was selling the solution both direct to customers and through smaller channel partners, he said. While normally this kind of solution would cost a large enterprise hundreds of thousands, the bundle (including services) was being sold for $55,000.

Votsaris said the solution addressed several concerns for the average SME organisation.

The first was the legal requirement set by Government departments to not only store and archive information, but be able to dig it back out again within short periods of time.

Examples of such regulatory obligations include the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) requirement for Australian organisations to store any financial information (such as invoices and other statements) for seven years.

Even the smallest of organisations were now being affected by such legislation, Votsaris said.

“A lot of transactions in small business involve a consultant emailing the business an invoice,” he said. “If that invoice has an ABN, the ATO requires it to be stored for seven years. But it is not enough to just print it out and file it, as [invoices] could be tampered with. The ATO requires that there is an audit trail – which means email communication needs to be archived [electronically] to prove when it arrived and that it has not been modified.”

Executive for IBM’s Data Management business, Brett Vincent, said that privacy legislation (the freedom of information act) also obligates companies to provide interested parties with any information they hold on an individual or organisation within 24 to 48 hours. While this information may be stored somewhere in the organisation, retrieving it is another challenge altogether, he said.

“This is particularly important for Government and corporations,” Vincent said.

Votsaris said that it was not only regulatory compliance, but also self-compliance, which would drive interest in email storage and archival solutions.

“There are many cases of unfair dismissal that have been dragged through the courts because organisations did not have a record of the communications they had with a disgruntled employee,” he said. “There are many examples of content in email that have legal ramifications.”

IBM Software has heralded the partnership as being symbolic of its new focus on approaching the SME market via partnerships with its reseller channel.

“If partners a willing to come to us with a good idea for the small business market, we are prepared to develop product sets with the partners to tackle that market,” Vincent said

But such ideas had to come from channel partners that could add value to the solution, he said.

“This is not just about discounting product for specific channel partners,” Vincent said.

In the case of Synergy Plus, the reseller was providing IP from past implementations, and templates for using the software, implementation and training.

Votsaris claims the IP alone could be worth as much as $50,000 from most consulting firms.

He said the email management bundle was an example of IBM offering enterprise solutions at “Microsoft pricing”.

“Previously the SME market could never entertain this kind of solution,” he said. “Six months ago if you started from scratch, this would have cost you $500,000 dollars.”

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