Symantec today announced that it has purchased LiveOffice, a privately-held cloud-based archiving vendor, for approximately $115 million. With nearly 20,000 customers, LiveOffice has historically marketed to small- and mid-sized financial services firms. Over the past couple of years, however, the vendor has steadily bolstered its archiving and broader information governance functionality, lined up productive partnerships with major technology vendors, and met with success in selling to larger organizations across a wider set of vertical markets.

Buying LiveOffice is a smart move for Symantec. My initial take is that this acquisition will be a positive development for current and prospective enterprise customers. Here’s why:

  • Symantec significantly expands its archiving and information governance portfolio. With its mature Enterprise Vault application, Symantec has the dominant market share for on-premises message archiving. Enterprise Vault helps organizations meet compliance requirements, cut storage and realize other IT benefits, and mitigate information risk. Combined with strong eDiscovery capabilities stemming from the vendor’s mid-2011 purchase of Clearwell Systems, Symantec provides solid archiving and information governance functionality. Yet, lack of natively developed cloud-based archiving functionality prevented Symantec from fully capitalizing on this surging market. With LiveOffice, Symantec now can offer customers a choice of on-premises or software-as-a-service (SaaS) options along with integration with and other cloud-based applications. Symantec’s expanded portfolio enables the vendor to provide flexible options meeting diverse enterprise archiving and information governance needs, and ultimately should support integrated hybrid deployment alternatives.
  • LiveOffice brings proven cloud-based archiving to Symantec. Driven by cost-saving benefits and deployment advantages vis-à-vis on-premises deployments, enterprise adoption of cloud-based archiving continues to accelerate at a rapid clip. We evaluated top SaaS-based message archiving vendors in an October 2011 report. (Forrester clients can access this market overview which compares LiveOffice with 11 other suppliers.) In this analysis, we gave LiveOffice top marks in message capture, mailbox management, supervision, scalability, security, and in other considerations. With its purchase of LiveOffice, Symantec can now directly deliver natively developed, top ranked cloud-based archiving to its customer base. This move also puts pressure on Symantec on-premises message archiving competitors to rapidly roll out SaaS-based offerings or consider picking up remaining, independent SaaS message archiving suppliers.
  • The strong, existing Symantec-LiveOffice partnership should ease integration bumps. Acquisitions invariably involve integration bumps, including those that frustrate current and prospective customers. Aligning roadmaps and corporate cultures can be tough, but three factors hold good potential to mitigate customer frustration during this particular integration process. These are:  1) executives and a big set of team members from both organizations “get” archiving at a deep level, 2) LiveOffice CEO Nick Mehta previously held a leadership position supporting Symantec Enterprise Vault, and 3) Symantec and LiveOffice have a strong partnership with existing joint customers – LiveOffice has been the OEM partner for Enterprise 

I’ll be continuing to closely track this acquisition, but for now, I’m optimistic on the potential that this purchase holds. Today, Symantec also announced deeper integration (e.g. collection and classification) between Enterprise Vault and Clearwell eDiscovery applications.  If Symantec devotes comparable resources and focus on linking LiveOffice with both Enterprise Vault and Clearwell, the vendor’s archiving and information governance customers stand to gain.