Cemaphore E-mail Tool Entices Google, Microsoft, EMC

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-03-27

Cemaphore E-mail Tool Entices Google, Microsoft, EMC

If Cemaphore Systems can successfully market a new product that lets users access their Outlook e-mail from Google's servers, the company could significantly boost its value to suitors interested in furthering their cloud computing ambitions.

MailShadow for Google, or MailShadowG, officially launched in beta on March 26. The product is targeted for businesses that want to not only let users access e-mail information from Microsoft Outlook and Exchange servers through Google's Gmail, but create a backup of that data.

Such a value proposition is sweet because it is cheaper and easier than trying to move Microsoft's venerable Exchange application to the cloud. Accessing Outlook information through Gmail while storing data on Google's servers could save companies a lot of money.

Cemaphore partners with Microsoft, EMC and now, Google. All three vendors have grand cloud ambitions. All three vendors could have an interest in buying the technology Cemaphore offers if customers take to MailShadowG.

Cemaphore founder and CEO Tyrone Pike acknowledged that Microsoft, EMC and Google could all be interested if the conditions are right. And, while most CEOs shy away from commenting, Pike reasoned that Google might be the most likely suitor for his company, based in San Mateo, Calif.

Pike told eWEEK Microsoft could easily build a technology for its Live Web mail service that leveraged Outlook. "It's all about their inclination to sell out the enterprise software a little bit to get some cloud business."

EMC, for whom Cemaphore provides caching technology for the company's Extender archiving product, appears to be the odd man out. While the company has purchased online storage provider Mozy, Pike said EMC is jumping into the cloud business because that's the thing of the moment.

Google, it seems, has the inside track. Pike said the company is "clearly driven by taking business from the enterprise" and could use Cemaphore's assets to make some inroads versus Microsoft's Outlook and Exchange, Pike argued.

Analysts Take

Analyst opinion varies on the notion that Microsoft, EMC and Google will vie for Cemaphore. Michael Osterman, principal of Osterman Research, said Cempahore should be very attractive to vendors interested in the cloud.

"I would be surprised if Cemaphore did not get acquired within the next three to six months. My guesses would be Google, Yahoo and Microsoft in that order."

Gartner's Matt Cain disagreed, noting that the overlap between Cemaphore and the three potential suitors is too great: Google is doing disaster recovery with its Postini unit; Microsoft has its own disaster recovery service in Exchange 2007; and EMC has SAN (storage area network)-based replication and replication mechanisms such as E-mail Extender.

Moreover, he said: "We don't know if the Gmail synch thing will work, and any potential investor would look at the development resources required to develop the Gmail app-and those are open APIs they're using at Google."

Ferris Research's Nick Shelness agreed with Cain for his own reasons, saying that Microsoft would not be inclined to buy Cemaphore because it has more insight into Exchange than Cemaphore.

He said Google could grab Cemaphore to use Gmail as a replacement for Exchange, but he wonders whether Cempahore fully understands what it takes to make it happen.

At the end of the day, it could come down to which company wants the synchronization and disaster recovery technology bad enough.

"If Microsoft was upset about Google, it would be important for us to be over there," Pike said. "If Google wanted to step up their game it would be important to be over there."

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