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Endpoint security tool fueled OpenText's Guidance Software acquisition

Endpoint security was the primary draw for OpenText's Guidance Software acquisition. But plans to improve e-discovery and data forensics with Magellan AI are part of the roadmap.

TORONTO -- When OpenText acquired Guidance Software in September 2017, the content management vendor needed its endpoint security tool.

Of course, OpenText also was pleased that endpoint security tool came with some other attractive assets: the well-known data forensics application seen on CSI and used by law enforcement and government investigators; an E-discovery platform; and Guidance’s loyal customer list.

Although OpenText plans to support all of those other assets in its aggressive growth-through-acquisition strategy -- and one longtime customer confirms that needed integrations are underway -- the biggest draw was the endpoint security tool.

OpenText's private cloud has 50 million endpoints today, and is expanding as more customers migrate more data into it, CEO and CTO Mark Barrenechea said.

"We wanted to enter the security market," he said during an OpenText Enterprise World media question and answer session.

While OpenText built its customer base on content management, which in time has evolved into content services, customers are demanding tighter Hybrid cloud security, as well as content access control.

The endpoint security tool from Guidance fills in technological "white space" OpenText needed to fill, while acquiring Covisint brought much-needed ID management, Barrenechea concluded.

OpenText Enterprise World 2018 image
OpenText Enterprise World 2018

AI coming to EnCase

Guidance's flagship application, EnCase, is used to collect and petrify data so it remains legally admissible in civil and criminal trials.

Lalith Subramanian, vice president of engineering for analytics, security and discovery at OpenText, said in an interview that the endpoint security tool now is needed mostly for laptops on the OpenText network.

But more use cases are coming as OpenText customers prepare IoT implementations that will multiply that number and as sensors come online, Subramanian said.

"People are not there yet but they're going to get there," he said. "Our challenge is more to support the breath of the platforms that are possible."

Subramanian also said that a secondary opportunity OpenText saw for the Guidance acquisition was incorporating Guidance's Magellan content-specific AI tools.

Guidance included no AI in its applications, but AI can help humans performing e-discovery for lawsuits, as well as data forensics investigations to sort documents and classify data.

We wanted to enter the security market.
Mark BarrenecheaCEO and CTO, OpenText

FBI investigators, Subramanian said, tell OpenText they are overwhelmed with digital data associated with cases and AI may quickly be able to identify patterns and starting points for evidence that sometimes take teams days to figure out.

OpenText forensicist James Kritselis has been assisting Guidance customers in extracting data from devices for years, taking on the most intractable cases to catch criminals.

He said he sees AI as a potential boon for finding connections ("link analysis" in investigator parlance) in data that aren't obvious to humans. One example would be when a criminal might conduct relevant conversations -- or pieces of conversations -- in multiple apps.

"If I see WhatsApp on a phone, AI would be able to start to look in Bumble or Tinder -- to figure out what other social media apps would be relevant," Kritselis said in an interview at the conference.

Integrations coming together

Meanwhile, Liberty Mutual Group's  insurance investigation unit doesn't need the endpoint security tool as much as it does linkage with other OpenText applications and services, said Brian Morrison, principal business systems analyst. His group, based in Dover, N.H., had used OpenText and Guidance software separately for years.

While some customers may have felt apprehension when OpenText acquired Guidance, Morrison said he has seen some quick wins in consolidating workflows already and looks forward to more.

Getting information for evidence out of Guidance products and into OpenText required many connectors and third-party helper applications. That process also is a drag on IT staffers, keeping up with the needs for preserving data through the workflow so it remains legally admissible.

"[I'm looking forward to] being able to get there without all these connectors," Morrison said.

"These are application developers and systems support people. I'm taking their time for something that if I could just get [from OpenText], they could work more on supporting the users, working on reporting, analytics and other things instead of grabbing something for me that's three years old and absolutely meaningless to them," he said.

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