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Attaching rights to documents is poised to become easier, as vendors acknowledge that ERM is a feature, not a standalone market.
The ERM market today remains somewhat ill-defined and anemic, and it includes only a small list of vendors. A flurry of recent deals in the market has caused some prospective buyers to take pause, although it also signals a healthy new direction for ERM, according to Robert Markham, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc.
Storage giant EMC Corp. recently acquired Authentica Inc., a Lexington, Mass.-based provider of ERM software, and plans to embed ERM capabilities into its Documentum content-management platform. Gartner analyst Ray Wagner sees this move as potentially kick-starting more interest in ERM among content-management vendors, who, he says, have generally been more preoccupied with beefing up their other capabilities, including workflow, version control, and backup. It also begins addressing concerns that ERM isn't sufficiently integrated with applications they use everyday to manage their documents.
In another recent acquisition, Adobe Systems Inc. acquired the digital-rights management division of Navisware, which will allow Adobe to expand the document formats it can support with its Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server to include not only PDF files but also Microsoft Office documents and CAD drawings.
Future versions of Microsoft Office SharePoint, which is steadily gaining in popularity among corporate users who need to collaborate on documents, will also include more rights-management features.
Microsoft Corp. is planning to integrate some rights-management capabilities into Vista, according to Suzanne Kalberer, product manager with Microsoft. This will eliminate the need for a separate, dedicated server, although it will still require companies to purchase separate licenses for the rights-management software running on client machines. It will also make it easier for application vendors to embed rights management into their applications as a matter of course, she says. Still, says Gartner's Wagner, "Until someone offers a standard OS with this capability at the lowest level, ERM won't become ubiquitous."
Meanwhile, a strong business case can quickly override the many valid concerns enterprises have about ERM today. As Sterling-Hoffman's Mehta puts it: "If we didn't have document security, we could not get the work done."
Do any of our vendors plan to incorporate ERM in future product releases?
What market events must occur before we would consider deploying ERM?