With the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation expected to come into force in 2018, and data sovereignty concerns riding high on CIO agendas, time is of the essence for SaaS vendors to prove to their customers that they have the capability and the understanding to provide services which continue to leverage cloud economics and ‘consumerised IT’ features… but do so in a more controllable and compliant fashion.
As you might expect from a content and collaboration vendor whose heritage is secure sharing of highly valuable content in heavily regulated industries, information security and data residency concerns are of paramount importance to Intralinks. Its Distributed Content Nodes (DCN) service is designed to allow customers to benefit from SaaS economics and functionality, but with tools that control where content is both stored and processed (ranging from on-premise, through a variety of hybrid scenarios and ‘geographically-specific SaaS’, to ‘true SaaS’).
When we covered Intralinks last year, I noted that DCN was planned to pilot in the first quarter of this year (a year later than the “early 2015” launch originally trailed in our 2014 report). However, Intralinks’ annual SEC 10-K filings from less than a month ago still talks about the service in the future tense.
Providing such granular logical control over storage and processing instances, whilst maintaining a UX layer and feature platform that provide a SaaS-like experience (and management benefits) wherever the content resides, is clearly a non-trivial exercise… And Intralinks hasn’t wanted to rush out a service that fails to perform, or risk its credentials in highly-regulated sectors.
So where (or rather, when) is it?
Well, Intralinks did begin its DCN pilot with “a large global bank” in 3Q 2015, and – following six months’ of testing and additional development – the company is planning to make it generally available towards the end of the first half of this year (coinciding with the launch of its German data centre). That initial release will support multi-tenant instances with Intralinks data centres, but customers will have to wait til the end of the year for single-tenant instances (and roll-out across all global Intralinks data centres), and early 2017 for on-premise support.
Last week’s news that Intralinks has acquired cloud infrastructure company Verilume goes some way to explaining how the DCN roadmap (above) is likely to take shape. Verilume’s existing services have focused on identifying on-premise resources which can be managed as cloud-like capacity for storage and compute; deploying software-defined storage platforms across these and other resources; linking to public cloud; and managing it all by geographic region, if necessary. Although marketed as a means by which (amongst other things) to spin up Hadoop and other Big Data clusters on demand, and provision scalable test and development environments – it’s as a way to manage hybrid cloud and on-premise infrastructure ‘as cloud’ where one can see Verilume’s technology playing an important part in the Distributed Content Node story.
In a recent blog post, Verilume co-founder (and now Intralinks SVP of Development) Mike Feinberg wrote that his former company’s expertise “directly aligns to Intralinks’ ability to integrate, deploy and manage Distributed Content Nodes around the globe”.
As organisations in all sorts of industries look for ways to balance data sovereignty concerns with cloud-based collaboration requirements, it’s important for Intralinks that it’s able to keep delivering on those roadmap promises for ever more enhanced security, privacy, and sovereignty features. Thus far (with capabilities like plugin-free IRM, and its own managed Microsoft Office Online instance that keeps Office editing within Intralinks’ certified infrastructure), the company’s demonstrated that it’s prepared to go the extra mile when developing enhanced capabilities for its content and collaboration customers. With DCN promising to bring these capabilities to bear across the full spectrum of on-premise, hybrid, and SaaS scenarios with highly granular management controls, the company is set to meet global data sovereignty concerns head-on… but it needs to consolidate and productise the potential quickly now, before competitors catch on and catch up.