Mover moves to Microsoft

This past week Microsoft acquired the Alberta, Canada based file migration company Mover. It’s an interesting acquisition that though unsurprising, illustrates the challenges that firms like Microsoft, Box & Dropbox all face in getting people to move legacy systems to newer platforms. In short, enterprise files are stored all over the place, are often inaccessible and seldom appropriately managed.

Microsoft has a need and desire to move its army of legacy customers to O365 (and its other cloud platforms). Many have been reluctant to move, so this acquisition should help with that effort. Mover is one of only a handful of migration tools that can handle the complexity of legacy repositories and can move files at scale. It’s a good buy for Microsoft.

But here comes the puzzle. There are so many companies with so many different legacy file systems along with so many new and improved file-sharing platforms on the market. Then how come there are so few vendors able to manage these migrations? We have researched the file migration in as much if not more depth than any analyst firm out there. We identified over 60 vendors in the space, all of them small. But there is only a handful capable of managing large and complex migrations. You would think that the more prominent vendors would have snapped them up long ago, but they haven’t. Mover is one of the first such acquisitions. We know of only a couple of others that seem likely in the coming year. So the question we have to ask is why? With so many buyers, so many opportunities, so many new systems on the market, why is there is so little focus on the tools to move one to the other?

The reason is in our analysis, at least, is that technology vendors are so enamored and excited about their products, they can’t see the wood for the trees. Mine is bigger; mine is better, mine is shinier, of course, folks will flock to my solutions when they see how great it is. If only that were the case.

I have been at the ARMA Infocon event in Nashville this week to give a keynote address, but it has also given me time to talk with buyers and end-users of document and record management solutions. Their take on these situations seems to be, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They may not love their legacy systems; some may even loathe them. But the fear of shifting outweighs those concerns. They are quite rightly worried that moving decades of files from a well-established environment to a new one could go wrong. Files could be lost, permissions and dependencies broken, regulations, and privacy breached. And who knows the new system may not be that much better than the old one, so why risk it? Those concerns are legitimate, and until more vendors acknowledge that and start to provide better routes to migration, those concerns will remain.

The acquisition by Microsoft of Mover is a step in the right direction, and a few more similar deals are likely to come. But understanding the legitimate concerns of buyers and addressing those concerns will likely prove to be a long haul.

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