Vera takes aim at document tracking for the mobile / cloud era

The time is right for document tracking, and Vera is well-positioned to take advantage.

Vera is a startup that’s working on document tracking—the idea that you can maintain complete control over files, no matter where they go. (This is also frequently referred to as information rights management, but I like the term document tracking since it’s more descriptive of what’s going on.) The concept has been around in various forms for a while, but now is a good time for it considering all the enterprise acceptance of cloud and mobile technology.

I’ve been hearing Vera come up in quite a few conversations over the last several months, so recently I caught up with one of Vera’s co-founders, Ajay Arora.

Ajay, along with Prakash Linga, the other founder of Vera, were also the co-founders of RAPsphere, the mobile app management startup that was acquired by AppSense back in 2012. Knowing that the first few generations of enterprise mobility management technologies where mostly perimeter-centric (many of the controls relate to what can go in and out of an app), for their next venture, Ajay and Prakash wanted to take a more wide ranging approach: assume that there are no borders, and instead track data wherever it happens to go. Vera launched in April 2015, and most recently had a $17 million Series B funding round in February.

Vera’s tech

Vera uses desktop agents, web apps, and mobile apps to encrypt and attach policies directly files. They provide a cloud service to do the key management and enforce policies.

Policies include things like encryption; access controls; copy/paste, opening, saving, and sharing controls; watermarking; and the ability to remotely remove access or change permissions.

Vera has clients for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, and the web. They have integrations with Office 365, Box, Dropbox, and VMware. Recently, they released an SDK and an API for their cloud platform, so document tracking can be embedded in other native mobile apps.

External collaborators that don’t have any of Vera’s agents or apps installed, and can simply be authenticated through an email link and view documents on the web. (So it’s easy and people that receive documents won’t get confused—hurray!)

Between all of the clients and policies, there are quite a few ways to set up workflows: encryption can happen automatically; or users can be prompted to set permissions; etc. There’s a modern web UI where users can track who has opened their documents or change permissions; and admins can set policies and perform audits for compliance.

The positioning

The time is definitely right for document tracking—we’ve seen the rapid rise of enterprise file sync and share over the last few years, EMM is maturing, and cloud app adoption is accelerating. Document tracking is a natural extension of all of this. (This also reminds me about all the conversations we used to have about MDM evolving into MAM, and how the next step could ne mobile information management.)

Certain industries with the need for secure external collaboration will naturally gravitate towards document tracking, but what will be interesting will be to see if document tracking becomes a standard part of all workflows in the mobile / cloud era.

There are some other efforts in the space, like the Microsoft Azure Rights Management Document Tracking and MobileIron’s Content Security Service. However Vera does have the inherent advantage of starting with a clean sheet to address today’s needs and technologies, as well as complete focus and being a neutral vendor.

I like this concept, the time is right, and Vera is off to a good start with its partnerships—so kudos to them; I’ll be watching them and the space. Do you see document tracking becoming part of your cloud and mobile toolkit?

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