How Sonian embodies the five cloud superpowers

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How Sonian embodies the five cloud superpowers by Greg Arnette

For six years, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has held their customer-centric conference in Las Vegas. The previous keynotes by AWS CEO Andy Jassy have used a narrative theme to weave together different elements to tell a “modern cloud story.” Last year, the theme was the “Seven Cloud Freedoms” and this year it was the “Five Cloud Superpowers.” I love the idea of cloud superpowers that give teams the ability to “leap over petabytes with a single cluster.”

Watching the 2016 main stage re:Invent keynote got me reminiscing about Sonian and why we chose the cloud instead of building our own data center. In late 2006, I started working on the technology and concepts that became Sonian. The company wasn’t officially incorporated until 2007 (which means 2017 will be our official 10 year anniversary… yeah! More on that later).

Reflecting on our history, Sonian embodies the five cloud superpowers in these ways:

Supersonic speed
Sonian has used “cloud speed” from the earliest days to the present. Back in 2007, it took us a little less than a year to go from concept-on-a-napkin to first shipping version — all thanks to cloud supersonic speed. That’s because we were not distracted with physical infrastructure.

More recently, we launched a new data ingestion pipeline process in record time — all thanks to cloud supersonic speed.

Sonian and our partners and customers all benefit from this amazing superpower.

X-ray vision
In a sense, the Sonian mission is all about the concept of x-raying data, giving customers x-ray vision into their own collaboration data. Our email data preservation and compliance platform indexes electronic records, makes them searchable and identifies security risks. Sonian also uses software tools to x-ray our own operational data, looking for areas to improve performance, reduce costs and increase security.

Immortality
Data “immortality” is important to Sonian customers. They trust us, and the underlying cloud infrastructure, to preserve and protect their most valuable data assets. In typical “archive fashion,” we’re the only copy of the data, so trust and durability are key and give the quality of data immortality.

Flight
One of the more popular cloud usage patterns is rapid experimentation and serendipitous discovery. For many enterprises, taking flight to the cloud is to support research and development experiments.  “Go fast” is the motto because abundant infrastructure is available on-demand.

Sonian benefited from the “flight” superpower with the early lab work for our security insights features. This was an example of rapid iterations and taking advantage of cloud flexibility.

Shapeshifting
The best cloud superpower is the ability to morph from one architecture pattern to another. What this means to Sonain is the ability to shapeshift our core architecture over time to meet growth demands. Every SaaS app goes through technology platform growth and plateau stages. During growth mode, shapeshifting is needed to take advantage of new technologies (like containers or map reduce) or new paradigm shifts (like serverless). The cloud almost requires morphing to ensure costs are low and reliability remains high.

It’s fun to think about superpowers available on-demand. For Sonian, and many other companies embracing the cloud, that’s what it’s really all about: speed, introspection, durability and adaptability.


— Greg Arnette is the founder and CTO of Sonian. Follow Greg on Twitter for more information about email, collaboration, big data management, cloud computing, start-ups and more.


About Sonian
Sonian preserves, protects and presents the world’s information.

More than 25,000 customers in 43 countries trust Sonian’s secure proprietary platform to retain, retrieve and surface critical data and protect intellectual property.

Founded in 2007, Sonian is the only pure public cloud information archiving company, providing services that are easy, flexible, actionable and reliable for OEM partners and their end customers. Sonian allows companies to preserve, analyze and access their electronic communications for legal, regulatory and continuity purposes while gaining organizational insights.

Sonian is building the future and solving big data problems for companies, all while managing more than 20 billion objects in the cloud.

Have questions? Want more info? Need help?
Let’s talk!


[White Paper] Best Practices for eDiscovery and Regulatory Compliance in Office 365

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An independent archive is a truth countermeasure to hacked email accounts

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An independent archive is a truth countermeasure to hacked email accounts by Greg Arnette
Are you protected? Email security breaches are on the rise and in the news.

Russian hackers used a fake Gmail password web form to steal Democratic National Committee (DNC) email records from senior personnel. This is a typical phishing attack scenario, where an unsuspecting email user opens a message believing it to be from Google; the message contains familiar-looking logos and links to a password form that allows the hackers to collect the unwitting user’s password. This compromise also allows hackers to view all email and all Google docs, spreadsheets and presentations.

The Russian hackers apparently gave the stolen email records to WikiLeaks, which is releasing the information in small chunks to maximize media coverage. Drip, drip, drip…

The interesting development is the speculation that some of the records may have been altered to appear more damaging and misleading to cause more political harm to the DNC.

In one example, a hacker known as MassRafTer on Twitter created fake documents to look like the WikiLeaks data to stir up more controversy. These fake documents are now trending on Twitter.

When you archive your email data using immutable WORM-compliant storage, there’s a permanent record and never any doubt about who really said what, did what or when.

An independent cloud archive is a great countermeasure to hacked emails, so that the truth can be proven.

It’s like truth serum.


— Greg Arnette is the founder and CTO of Sonian. Follow Greg on Twitter for more information about email, collaboration, big data management, cloud computing, start-ups and more.


About Sonian
Sonian preserves, protects and presents the world’s information.

More than 25,000 customers in 43 countries trust Sonian’s secure proprietary platform to retain, retrieve and surface critical data and protect intellectual property.

Founded in 2007, Sonian is the only pure public cloud information archiving company, providing services that are easy, flexible, actionable and reliable for OEM partners and their end customers. Sonian allows companies to preserve, analyze and access their electronic communications for legal, regulatory and continuity purposes while gaining organizational insights.

Sonian is building the future and solving big data problems for companies, all while managing more than 20 billion objects in the cloud.

Have questions? Want more info? Need help?
Let’s talk!


[White Paper] Best Practices for eDiscovery and Regulatory Compliance in Office 365

[White Paper] Best Practices for eDiscovery and Regulatory Compliance in Office 365

Don’t miss this valuable information about eDiscovery and regulatory compliance in Office 365 in this detailed white paper from the experts at Osterman Research.

Get the white paper right now!

Protecting digital communications stored in the cloud

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Protecting digital communications stored in the cloud by Greg ArnetteScore a win for privacy! Protecting digital communications stored in the cloud is one of the few issues Congress agrees on unanimously: The U.S. House of Representative has overwhelming passed the Email Privacy Act – by a vote of 419 to 0.

The legislation, an upgrade of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), requires a law enforcement agency to obtain a search warrant to gain access to cloud accounts.

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), a leading advocate of ECPA reform, has been working to advance the legislation.

“With the rise of cloud computing, our emails, photos and texts are stored with third parties. For the law to keep up with technology and users’ reasonable expectation of privacy, that information must be protected by a search warrant. That’s the same constitutional standard that protects the information we store in our homes,” says CDT Vice President of Policy Chris Calabrese.

The Email Privacy Act now moves to the Senate. Hopefully, it will be passed in that body, too, and become the law. This reform is long overdue and much needed for the modern cloud-computing era.

Technology and concerns about privacy have both changed a lot in the last 30 years – it’s time for the law to catch up!


— Greg Arnette is the founder and CTO of Sonian. Follow Greg on Twitter for more information about email, collaboration, big data management, cloud computing, start-ups and more.


About Sonian
Sonian preserves, protects and presents the world’s information.

More than 25,000 customers in 43 countries trust Sonian’s secure proprietary platform to retain, retrieve and surface critical data and protect intellectual property.

Founded in 2007, Sonian is the only pure public cloud information archiving company, providing services that are easy, flexible, actionable and reliable for OEM partners and their end customers. Sonian allows companies to preserve, analyze and access their electronic communications for legal, regulatory and continuity purposes while gaining organizational insights.

Sonian is building the future and solving big data problems for companies, all while managing more than 20 billion objects in the cloud.

Have questions? Want more info? Need help?
Let’s talk!


[White Paper] The Need for Third-Party Archiving in Office 365

[White Paper] The Need for Third-Party Archiving in Office 365

Don’t miss this valuable information about data protection, email archiving and Office 365 from the experts at Osterman Research.

Get the white paper right now!

AWS celebrates 10 years of cloud success

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about_gregWow! Where did that decade go? Amazon Web Services is already turning 10 and Sonian has been on board from the beginning.

In March 2006, the first cloud building block was announced: Simple Storage Service. At that time, 15 cents per gigabyte per month for an SLA of 11 nines and flexible access controls was truly disruptive. Just a couple years earlier, Sun had tried to offer a hosted storage service but the dollar per gigabyte per month wasn’t disruptive enough.

AWS is the fastest growing enterprise service, according to FactSetAWS.

I recall the early evangelical years when AWS folks like Andy Jassy, Tracy Laxdal, Rudy Valdez and Jeff Barr were touring the country hosting small user groups. In particular, I remember the Cambridge, MA meetup where early adopters gathered to compare notes and hash out our early cloud plans. We had no idea how big and fast cloud adoption would occur.

Sonian is an example of what we now call a born-in-the-cloud startup. We’re technically nine years old, but the original team started to work on the project that would become Sonian in the late summer of 2006. In March 2007, just a few months after S3 became available, Sonian was formed. In March 2008, Sonian launched the official first “shipping” version of our archive after months of beta testing and co-development. So March is a significant month in both Sonian and AWS history.

AWS leaders were astute in their understanding of how to attract leading-edge thinkers who realized there could be a better way to build a SaaS app. The simple compelling message was: Let Amazon, with all our smart people, handle all the undifferentiated heavy lifting for hosting a SaaS app. This means managing physical infrastructure (computers, storage, etc.), data centers and networking. And do it all in an inexpensive (but not “cheap”) pay-as-you-go model. Very appealing. But this message only initially resonated with technologists who had just gone through the painful process of building out purpose-built data centers to host the SaaS app. Due to the fact that so much of a team’s focus had to be on the core plumbing (the stuff below the water line), it was hard to make that work and also focus on the customer-facing features that were the key to success.

With AWS, Sonian and our fellow early cloud adopters had a whole different way to begin a startup journey. A smaller, more capital-efficient team could accomplish something big. That was disruptive in the world of startups. We didn’t need to raise millions in venture capital just to build a hosting infrastructure.

Smooth flying, with some turbulence
Today, Sonian is a profitable SaaS company with more than 25,000 customers.

We were confident the cloud was going to be significant. But we didn’t realize how big or how fast the embrace would occur. As the cloud grew, we benefited because, as the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Fundraising challenges
In the early days, venture capitalists were skeptical of this new technology called the cloud. It was hard to raise money with our cloud approach. (We did a large angel round instead, serving as our Series A funding). Today, a venture capitalist expects a SaaS or mobile startup to use the cloud.

Operating-in-the-cloud challenges
The cloud challenges we faced in the five years between 2006 and 2010 give us our gravitas today. The cloud was a whole new hosting platform paradigm that didn’t resemble the traditional model of hosting on your dedicated hardware. We literally had a clean sheet of design architecture to create. There was no existing playbook; all the cloud early adopters were on the same learning curve.

In the cloud, we had to learn to expect failure at every transaction and design architectures for this environment. That was the tradeoff we made. Low cost, pay-as -you-go versus ephemeral infrastructure. As it turns out, this was the right tradeoff. By designing for failure with our stateless architecture, we also set up ourselves for taking advantage of auction CPU pricing, allowing Sonian to surf the price curve. Our early dreams about what the cloud could become were coming true! (Today, a bulk of our pipeline process is on auction pricing: we realize up to a 90% savings compared to list prices.)

Sonian pioneered several aspects of cloud operations that are now known givens. But from 2006 to 2008, there was no dev ops, full-text search, cost and asset management or health monitoring.

We also learned the hard way that variable network bandwidth latency in the cloud cripples clustered file systems and causes split brain conditions in ElasticSearch. Those days are behind us, thankfully.

Sonian also created Sensu, internal tooling to monitor and alert, analyze the cost of virtual infrastructure and ensure security and compliance. This became our cloud fabric layer, which supports our single reference architecture spanning multiple public clouds.

Business development challenges and the opportunity in the cloud
In the same way the cloud needed new technologies to ensure success, customer development was also different. Sonian is focused on B2B, which means we offer a service for other businesses. Enterprise IT decision-makers are a hard bunch to convince of radical new technologies. My co-founders and I figured we could try something different than the classic “Enterprise IT Startup Play.” We saw an opportunity to provide an OEM white label service designed for channels.

Prior to the channel approach, if a startup wanted to sell to the enterprise, it had to invest in an enterprise sales force and bolster that effort with inbound marketing. Expensive to get up and running. But what if there was another way? There was…

Sonian, while architecting our technology for the nascent cloud, also “architected” business development for the channel. This means a lean and efficient channel business development team could identify partners and leverage the channel’s customer growth to grow Sonian. This approach also let us bypass the built-in antibodies in corporate IT that would resist cloud SaaS because it was so new and powered by “book seller” Amazon. Enterprise IT departments are rightfully cautious. So we attached Sonian to hosted collaboration (email, calendars, docs) and have been very successful.

By building on cloud and focusing on channels, we’ve leveraged both platforms to our benefit. A customer buying hosted email has already decided outsourcing is OK, so there was no new friction selling archiving and search. Plus, hosted email companies didn’t already have a built-in retention system. It also turns out the Amazon cloud is the perfect environment to host an information archive and analytics platform.

It’s fun to reflect on AWS turning 10. It’s not often we reflect on the past, since tech typically is always looking forward. I can’t imagine how interesting the next decade is going to be!


— Greg Arnette is the founder and CTO of Sonian. Follow Greg on Twitter for more information about email, collaboration, big data management, cloud computing, start-ups and more.


About Sonian
Sonian preserves, protects and presents the world’s information.

More than 25,000 customers in 43 countries trust Sonian’s secure proprietary platform to retain, retrieve and surface critical data and protect intellectual property.

Founded in 2007, Sonian is the only pure public cloud information archiving company, providing services that are easy, flexible, actionable and reliable for OEM partners and their end customers. Sonian allows companies to preserve, analyze and access their electronic communications for legal, regulatory and continuity purposes while gaining organizational insights.

Sonian is building the future and solving big data problems for companies, all while managing more than 20 billion objects in the cloud.

Have questions? Want more info? Need help?
Let’s talk!


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5 enterprise tech trends for 2016

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about_greg

As Sonian’s greater mission is to help enterprise IT migrate from on-premises systems to the cloud, we know that archiving and information governance workloads are the first to “move on up to the top.”

To better serve our customers, we’re always working to identify enterprise technology trends that are at the beginning of the adoption curve. Here are five we’re keeping an eye on in 2016:
2016 is going to be an exciting year for technology!
How the 7 cloud freedoms make Sonian possible

1. IT becomes the department of “yes”
IT’s influence has waned in many organizations. IT, by their own admission, became the department of “no.” It’s ironic, considering IT previously was the group that brought innovation to their respective businesses – innovation that delivered distinct competitive advantages.

But even IT couldn’t keep up with the pace of innovation and fell victim to legacy thinking and was viewed by line of business managers as obstructing progress. That’s why Salesforce.com, Workday, Hubspot, Intacct, etc. took off. There are more than 1,400 enterprise SaaS apps that can be procured without IT involvement. Sales, marketing and other line of business departments grew tired of waiting for IT’s approval and began to go around IT. Researching, purchasing, and implementing their own solutions, they pushed the IT gatekeepers to the side. But IT is about to come roaring back to being relevant again.

Specifically, IT will start to reinvent itself in 2016 and become the department of “yes.”

In fact, the CIO role will be redefined dramatically. CIO historically means Chief Information Officer. In 2016, that will shift to Chief Innovation Officer. A new role is emerging called Chief Data Officer. CIO and CDO responsibilities will merge together as part of IT resurgence.

IT departments of the future will be smaller and more efficient. They will focus more on value-added services and let the cloud manage the undifferentiated heavy lifting. No longer is managing an on-premises Microsoft Exchange server a value add; the cloud can deliver commodity-priced email cheaper than self-managed. This means fewer people are needed and their skills must evolve to focus more on business needs and less on mundane technical tasks.

It’s the end of “average IT.”

IT in 2016 will provide overall technical oversight in the form of information security, compliance and governance for SaaS applications and will be the guardrails that prohibit a business manager from making poor technology choices. IT will ensure SaaS vendors are using state of the art and trusted security controls. IT will enforce new standards, such as multifactor authentication, and will vet vendors for best practices.

Finally, IT will provide value-added services by analyzing the reams of business data contained in the dozens of SaaS apps used by a modern enterprise.

2. Cloud gets cheaper
The cloud will continue to be easier to use and less expensive. We won’t see the dramatic price cuts of the past few years, but with healthy competition and exponential innovation, the major cloud vendors will keep each other in check and continue to drive pricing lower because they are figuring out new ways to manage their infrastructure at lower cost.

Amazon’s new Elasticsearch as a service is a great example of “getting less expensive.” Prior to this new capability, if you wanted to run Elasticsearch on AWS, you had to self-manage compute (EC2) storage (EBS) and configure various networking settings (VPC & IAM) for reliable operation. Not a trivial matter. Now, with the new Elasticsearch service, the same capability is available in a turnkey, pay-as-you-go offering that requires no Elasticsearch configuration expertise. And it’s less expensive overall when you factor in headcount.

In 2016, we’ll see three major cloud providers and a handful of niche players. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Platform will be the dominant public cloud providers, each offering an array of similar capabilities and similar price points. Each will succeed based on different factors.

AWS will remain the largest and most advanced. Their five-year head start gives them an innovation cadence akin to compounding interest on an investment account. It’s really hard for anyone else to catch up and AWS’ new services are so attractive that they virtually guarantee a certain degree of lock-in. Every major new startup (except Snapchat) is running on AWS. Amazon is also figuring out the enterprise, after winning the hearts and minds of startup founders.

Microsoft continues to be a major player, thanks to dominance in the enterprise and the comfort IT decision makers have with .NET, SQL Server and Office platforms. Azure will continue to offer more IaaS and PaaS services and price match or be lower than AWS or GCP.

Google needs to figure out the enterprise and will leverage the growing Google for Work platform to make inroads. Some startups that are machine learning or AI-focused will choose GCP over AWS as the primary platform.

The cloud market is looking like the other major markets in our economy. Whether automobile, media, airlines or banking, there always seems to be the “Big 3” major providers and up to a dozen smaller players satisfying niche needs. In 2016, that’s also how the cloud market will look.

3. Cloud gets simpler
Another trend to expect in 2016 is that the cloud will get easier to use. The major cloud providers are investing heavily in making the cloud more approachable for enterprise IT. All the raw horsepower at our disposal will be packaged into quick start templates that ensure an easy, secure and reliable deployment. Every on-premises service will have a cloud alternative, no matter how niche.

Cloud ISVs (Sonian is an example) will have access to more capabilities that allow relatively small teams to solve bigger problems. One example of this is “serverless” architectures. New services like AWS Lambda and Microsoft Orleans completely abstract away the notion of managing anything resembling a traditional virtual machine “server” from running your code.

Lambda is farther ahead in this area and is already spawning new projects that do not require teams to manage any dedicated infrastructure (virtual or physical). Write your code, upload to the cloud and execute on event triggers. No EC2, EBS, etc. to worry about.

Services like Lambda are leaps beyond the trend toward using Docker to containerize applications. But while Docker promotes portability across clouds (a positive) it adds more administration overhead and complexity. Services like Lambda are easier, but lock-in is the price you pay for this simplicity. But don’t fret about lock-in too much: this is another startup opportunity waiting to be solved and someone will do it.

4. Businesses will be challenged managing the data deluge
In 2016, businesses need to implement better methods to manage all the data a modern enterprise generates. Now more than ever, the need for central reporting is critical to support compliance / auditing / governance as well as analytics / intelligence / insights. The more than 1,400 enterprise SaaS options available have robust APIs to allow access to this important data, but enterprises don’t have the best tools to help them make the best use of it. This area is ripe for innovation.

Enterprises will need to find reliable, cost-effective systems to store, index and analyze billions of data assets, while also segmenting machine-generated information from human-generated content. The goal is for a manager to use this data to create knowledge about the business and make better decisions.

With the right systems in place, you can answer these types of questions:
• Which customers are more profitable?
• Which products have the least support burden?
• Which employees meet their goals consistently?

The cloud, machine learning and open source will all play pivotal roles in better enterprise reporting.

5. Millennials enter the workforce
Enterprises need to prepare for a new type of employee as millennials enter the workforce: more technically savvy than they are used to and less open to change. After college commencements this spring, a wave of millennials is going to flood the workforce. This is the first generation that grew up with the Internet, smartphones and ubiquitous instant access to information.

Millennials don’t use the phone or email on a regular basis. But they are used to communicating asynchronously with short messages and on public forums, such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. To them, email is stale and old fashioned – and it doesn’t provide the immediate gratification of a Snapchat experience.

Businesses and millennials will be challenged to find the right balance, and the IT department will be ground central for this trend. IT needs to prepare to train millennials on the installed technology, which will feel backwards to how millennials are accustomed to functioning. And IT should also be prepared to embrace new ideas about enterprise social networking, ESN.

ESN hasn’t taken off like many predicted a few years ago. That is about to change as Facebook prepares to launch FB@Work. The same comfortable user experience billions of people are used to will now be packaged for businesses to create their own private experience for sharing and collaboration.

It’s no coincidence that FB@Work is launching in the spring of 2016!

What other tech trends are on your radar for 2016? Let us know in the comments!


— Greg Arnette is the founder and CTO of Sonian. Follow Greg on Twitter for more information about email, collaboration, big data management, cloud computing, start-ups and more.


About Sonian

Sonian preserves, protects and presents the world’s information.

More than 25,000 customers in 43 countries trust Sonian’s secure proprietary platform to retain, retrieve and surface critical data and protect intellectual property.

Founded in 2007, Sonian is the only pure public cloud information archiving company, providing services that are easy, flexible, actionable and reliable for OEM partners and their end customers. Sonian allows companies to preserve, analyze and access their electronic communications for legal, regulatory and continuity purposes while gaining organizational insights.

Sonian is building the future and solving big data problems for companies, all while managing more than 20 billion objects in the cloud.

Have questions? Want more info? Need help?

Let’s talk!


[White Paper] The Need for Third-Party Archiving in Office 365

[White Paper] The Need for Third-Party Archiving in Office 365

Don’t miss this valuable information about data protection, email archiving and Office 365 from the experts at Osterman Research.

Get the white paper right now!

How the 7 cloud freedoms make Sonian possible

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about_greg

How is your business taking advantage of the cloud freedoms?

Andy Jassy, senior vice president of Amazon Web Services (AWS), recently revealed the seven cloud freedoms at the 2015 AWS re:Invent conference. Sonian is an example of a “born in the cloud” startup; we embody what Amazon had in mind in the beginning days of AWS circa 2006 when Jeff Bezos and team had the idea to unlock the value of Amazon’s data center power and offer it to third parties like Sonian. We resonated with the original cloud value proposition (let someone else handle the undifferentiated heavy lifting) and made a big bet to go “all public cloud or die trying!” And we’re still alive to share our story.

I like the way Andy captures the positive attributes of the cloud and will highlight the many ways Sonian inherits and amplifies these freedoms to our customers. The seven freedoms are the essence of why Sonian does what it does, and why using the cloud is a perfect match for our workloads and customer use cases.

How the 7 cloud freedoms make Sonian possible

In case you missed Andy’s presentation, the seven cloud freedoms are:

1. Freedom to build what you want
2. Freedom to get real value from your data
3. Freedom to get your data in and out of the cloud easily
4. Freedom from bad database relationships
5. Freedom to migrate
6. Freedom to secure your cake and eat it too
7. Freedom to say “yes”

1 – Freedom to build what you want

Call this the original freedom. The cloud supports an unlimited number of applications, workloads and use cases. The sky is literally the limit when it comes to what can be created with the cloud. Never before has there been the ability for a small team to serve a worldwide audience by leveraging the cloud’s scaling and cost efficiencies. The next world-changing research, B2B or B2C service will be launched from the cloud. The cloud is unlocking exponential innovation and experimentation; I can’t wait to see what comes next.

2 – Freedom to get real value from your data

Sonian’s reason for existing is all about deriving business value from employee-generated content. Whether in the form of full text search of billions of documents and petabytes of information or using sophisticated text analytics to reveal trending topics in employee communications, our mission is to unlock the potential of communications data to help our customers save money or make more money.

Sonian’s is the cloud platform for a business to store, search and analyze its email, files, documents and discussions.

Our software running in the cloud gives us the on-demand horsepower to extract value from data by indexing, searching and analyzing billions of data objects and petabytes of content. We’re at the beginning of our analytics journey, and it’s only possible because of the cloud.

3 – Freedom to get your data in and out of the cloud easily

The cloud offers two primary ways to ingest data: Over the wire using simple and secure APIs or, for larger volumes of information, ship the data to the cloud using a storage device. Sonian takes advantage of both these methods to accommodate our customers’ preferences. In turn, we make it even easier for our customers to stream their email data to the cloud with an innovative “direct-to-cloud object store” feature that guarantees reliable delivery, audit and chain of custody controls. This is an example of how Sonian inherits a core cloud capability (in this case AWS S3,) and adds our special sauce to amplify the innovation to our customers.

Moving data out of the cloud is equally as important as moving data into it. Sonian, like the cloud, doesn’t lock a customer into the service. Customers can export their data in an industry standard format and migrate to another provider. The era of vendor-specific lockin that plagued IT is now over — and cloud thinking is the major reason.

4 – Freedom from bad database relationships

Like the cloud itself, the Sonian architecture has been continuously evolving since the beginning. In the early days, there were few database choices and we made do with what was available. In the past, if we wanted to use a NoSQL or SQL database, we had to provision and manage the software on our own compute and storage instances. Major distractions!

Now, we can “rent” many database types and benefit from pay-as-you-go pricing. Management hassles and extra expenses no longer distract us. It’s also an example of the “let someone else take care of the undifferentiated heavy lifting.” In this case, there is no value in Sonian DevOps managing a MySQL implementation on AWS. It’s a waste of time and denies us the ability to focus on customer features.

Today, there are cloud database services optimized for SQL, NoSQL, analytics and search: all are available as a service and play a major part in Sonian’s increased innovation cadence. All become the foundation for next-generation analytics and insights.

5 – Freedom to migrate

When we started Sonian in 2007, we imagined a future where there would be multiple public clouds. In 2015, we are living this reality. As a cloud ISV, first on AWS, and now on other clouds too, we originally architected for multi cloud and that decision proved prescient.

Today, Sonian operates a single reference architecture across multiple clouds, testament to the freedom to migrate from one cloud to another.

6 – Freedom to secure your cake and eat it too

Information security looms large over cloud deployments. The cloud has come a long way to provide many features to build secure applications. In many ways, the cloud can be more secure than an on-premises data center. When you factor in physical security and application security, a traditional data center has a lot of surface area to protect. A cloud app only needs to protect the public endpoints and there are many proven methods to do so, such as multi-factor authentication, identity and access controls.

From the Sonian perspective, security means two things with respect to customer data in the cloud: resiliency and privacy.

Resiliency means don’t lose anything. When Sonian (and the cloud we sit on) take the customer data, all safeguards are used to preserve the data until the customer wants to delete it.

Privacy means don’t expose data to unauthorized people. This is the second security axis. Since there is no physical relationship between a customer and their data in the cloud, we have to implement logical / virtual controls to ensure only the customer can see their own data.

The cloud offers the audit and lock-down controls; Sonian implements an additional security layer to ensure privacy is enforced at all operating layers (IaaS, Paas and SaaS).

7 – Freedom to say “yes”

IT has the recent reputation of being the department of “no.” It’s a shame because IT used to be the group in a company that would find new technologies to help the customer compete and better differentiate. Business managers, such as a VP of Sales, frustrated with year-long sales force automation implementations, went around IT to buy salesforce.com. The same for HR and Workday, Marketing and Marketo and Finance and NetSuite (these are just a few examples of the over 1,400 enterprise SaaS apps available.)

IT is in a fight for relevancy and needs to reassert its place in the executive board room as a value add, not just a legacy cost center.

With the cloud as an ally, IT can be the department of “yes.” IT can embrace the cloud, for the six freedoms cited above, and say “yes” to new analytics projects. Say “yes” to new collaboration services. Say “yes” to new high-performance databases. Say “yes” to experimenting with new ways to solve the old problems.

There are many waiting to be unearthed; IT, embracing these cloud freedoms, will be central to helping companies reveal them.

The ability to say “yes” is my favorite cloud freedom. What’s yours?


— Greg Arnette is the founder and CTO of Sonian. Follow Greg on Twitter for more information about email, collaboration, big data management, cloud computing, start-ups and more.


About Sonian

Sonian preserves, protects and presents the world’s information.

More than 25,000 customers in 43 countries trust Sonian’s secure proprietary platform to retain, retrieve and surface critical data and protect intellectual property.

Founded in 2007, Sonian is the only pure public cloud information archiving company, providing services that are easy, flexible, actionable and reliable for OEM partners and their end customers. Sonian allows companies to preserve, analyze and access their electronic communications for legal, regulatory and continuity purposes while gaining organizational insights.

Sonian is building the future and solving big data problems for companies, all while managing more than 20 billion objects in the cloud.

Have questions? Want more info? Need help?

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Cloud Archiving: Facts vs. Myths

Cloud Archiving: Facts vs. Myths

Know the truth – and avoid the data preservation pitfalls.

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3 epiphanies from the Chief Data Officer Summit

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about_greg

I just got back from the Chief Data Officer Summit in NYC. I’ve been exploring the evolution of the Chief Information Officer role within large enterprises, which led me to this immersive event and a further understanding of the many ways business are adapting to the massive change reshaping their enterprise IT departments. (It was also great to hear the validation of analytics best practices we’ve been following at Sonian on our own data sciences journey.)

1. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is morphing into the Chief Data Officer (CDO)

Clearly, over the past 10 years, the traditional CIO role has been changing (some might say it’s under assault) as line of business managers went around IT and purchased their own IT, often in the form of SaaS, such as salesforce.com or Zendesk.

The CIO and CDO will jointly own the comprehensive data strategy. But as analytics becomes more important, the CDO will assume more responsibility and ultimately assert more control.

A simple but effective way to see this change is to analyze the Google search results for “CDO” and “CIO.” Searches for CDO are growing 100% CAGR, while people seeking CIO information is declining by significant percentages. Searches across open job aggregation sites reveal an increase in “Chief Data Officer” open positions, while CIOs are flat or declining.

For a CDO to be successful, they will need to empower the “citizen” analyst within their organizations to help business users consume, prepare and analyze the data available in all the systems of record. This is new thinking for the IT department and perhaps “legacy-minded” CIOs will not be able to make the transition to this new “analytical” world.

2. CDOs have significant challenges but big opportunities

The CDO opportunity is to deliver exponential IT value to their business leader counterparts. The CDO challenge is to help their technical colleagues realize that IT needs to understand the business context. IT as a standalone, existing in a vacuum of supporting file and print servers, isn’t where value is created these days.

“There’s gold in them thar hills!” is a famous call to action of a prior gold rush. Today’s equivalent is to find the “tons of treasure and pile of gold” in enterprise data “while slaying the dragons protecting the stockpile.” The dragons are legacy-thinking, outdated integration technology and IT staff with poor training in analytics.

CIOs and CDOs have overlapping responsibilities and share a need to provide innovation in the form of analytics. But the most important requirement for data sciences is to know the business context. In this case, the CDO is better positioned to connect business needs to IT capabilities and to understand the value proposition chain of their respective organizations. The value chain is the virtuous cycle that weaves together what the company sells with why customers buy it.

3. Organizing enterprise data for analytics is difficult

On average, today companies use only 12% of their data to get insights. The CDO opportunity is to go from a measly 12% to a much higher number. When more data can be harnessed, more insights can be gleaned. But a hurdle is that most of an enterprise’s valuable data is in an unstructured format. Some estimate that as much as 80% is in this hard-to-process format.

Fortunately, cloud computing, open-source technologies and newly-trained data scientists make it possible to mine the data buried deep inside databases, email, files and communications.

As CDOs plan their analytics projects, they need to focus on “quick wins” while tracking toward a long term vision. “The pursuit of perfection shouldn’t interfere with the art of the possible.” These days, IT needs to demonstrate business impact more quickly than in the past.

IT of 2015 and beyond needs to transition into enforcing the “guardrails” of compliance, information governance and security, while ensuring vendors meet their committed service level agreements. The transition of the CIO to the CDO is part of this change.


— Greg Arnette is the founder and CTO of Sonian. Follow Greg on Twitter for more information about email, collaboration, big data management, cloud computing, start-ups and more.


About Sonian

Sonian preserves, protects and presents the world’s information.

More than 25,000 customers in 43 countries trust Sonian’s secure proprietary platform to retain, retrieve and surface critical data and protect intellectual property.

Founded in 2007, Sonian is the only pure public cloud information archiving company, providing services that are easy, flexible, actionable and reliable for OEM partners and their end customers. Sonian allows companies to preserve, analyze and access their electronic communications for legal, regulatory and continuity purposes while gaining organizational insights.

Sonian is building the future and solving big data problems for companies, all while managing more than 20 billion objects in the cloud.

Have questions? Want more info? Need help?

Let’s talk!


[WEBINAR] Illuminating the Dark Data in Email

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Get an exclusive look at the new cutting–edge data visualization tools being developed by Sonian from CTO Greg Arnette.

Watch the recorded webinar.

4 keys to data science success

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4 keys to data science success by Greg Arnette
Sonian is working on ambitious data science solutions in the realm of extracting business value from unstructured, employee-generated content. It’s estimated that more than 80% of an enterprise’s valuable data assets live in email, files, documents and discussions. Sonian’s cloud platform reveals organizational insights in the same way a logging system like Splunk reveals operational insights. With analytics, we’re helping enterprise IT provide more value to their organizations. While down at the Chief Digital Officer Summit in New York this week, it was great to hear validation of many of the analytics best practices we’ve been following ourselves on our own data sciences journey.

Here are 4 keys to analytics success:

The data must tell a story that can be understood by all stakeholders
A big trend is publishing dashboards displaying KPI information. These are well intended efforts, with green, yellow and red beacons providing 30,000 foot situational awareness. But dashboards introduce the “whack-a-mole” problem and what is missing is providing context associated with the status. If an indicator is red, the reason why must be available. Data science needs to tell a story about the data with context, offering both “the why” along with “the what.”

A data science team needs buy-in from company leadership
Teams embarking on their data science journey need to be empowered by company leadership and not treated as a half-hearted measure. The motto should be “all in or not at all.” Avoid the trap of starting a data science initiative before the CEO and CxO team are ready to commit their respective departments to the cause. Data science projects must reach across company functional silos to provide the comprehensive context and tell the complete story (see #1 above.)

Treat your data science project like a startup
A data science journey begins with top-level management approval and internal funding. New technologies will need to be purchased and most likely new team members hired. Use the “Lean Startup Playbook” to guide the project. This means work backward from the customer (in this case the management team and department leaders), have a big vision but focus on quick deliverables and short iterations (something new must be given to customers at least every 2 weeks) and be prepared to pivot to please the customer.

Don’t create in a vacuum
And finally… don’t create in isolation. A data science project will only be successful when business users are active co-creators in the project. Many technologists have blind spots toward the “business side of the house.” Connect business users to data scientists in one team so there is cohesion and shared sense of responsibility for success.


— Greg Arnette is the founder and CTO of Sonian. Follow Greg on Twitter for more information about email, collaboration, big data management, cloud computing, start-ups and more.


About Sonian

Sonian preserves, protects and presents the world’s information.

More than 25,000 customers in 43 countries trust Sonian’s secure proprietary platform to retain, retrieve and surface critical data and protect intellectual property.

Founded in 2007, Sonian is the only pure public cloud information archiving company, providing services that are easy, flexible, actionable and reliable for OEM partners and their end customers. Sonian allows companies to preserve, analyze and access their electronic communications for legal, regulatory and continuity purposes while gaining organizational insights.

Sonian is building the future and solving big data problems for companies, all while managing more than 20 billion objects in the cloud.

Have questions? Want more info? Need help?

Let’s talk!