New Storage Sector Rises from Regs


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Driven by new federal regulations, a new business category called information lifecyle management (ILM) has taken center stage in the storage industry.

ILM is geared for the cradle-to-grave management of "unstructured data" such as e-mails, attachments, and audio and video clips. Previously, CEOs didn't want to keep this information; now they have no choice.

Lawmakers responded to the rash of corporate scandals with regulations including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, SEC 17A-4, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Some of the measures require that companies save data for decades or risk stiff fines.

Osterman Research found about 60 percent of business information is stored within employees' e-mail systems. Because of this, the researcher reports e-mail storage is ballooning at a rate of about 40 percent each year.

Managing the glut is problematic. Not only must companies deploy tape backup and disks to handle the glut of data they store, but they also covet specific tools to retrieve only the files they need. Basic software can back up and recover whole systems, but locating a hundred or so specific files in a sea of millions can be quite daunting. That's why enterprise content management (ECM) and storage systems are coalescing.

Still, many companies seem to want it both ways when buying systems for compliance and retrieval, according to Enterprise Storage Group analyst Peter Gerr.

"Customers want to see the vision pitch, want to see the revolutionary idea, even while they are demanding the ability to make tactical purchases and evolutionary steps towards that goal," Gerr told internetnews.com. "It's a very challenging environment for both the vendors and the end-users."

Dealmaking to Meet Customer Requests

Brenda Zawatski, a VERITAS vice president, calls the compliance issue something of a "regulated disaster," because so much is now required of companies. As a result, vendors are teaming with content management and archiving specialists to provide reliable systems to save and locate files.

EMC recently signaled the importance of ILM in the storage sector when it announced plans to acquire Legato Systems, a maker of e-mail archiving and content management software. The deal unveiled an ILM strategy for EMC, which it continued to build on with the purchase of ECM software maker Documentum.

HP soon followed with its own ILM strategy, which included the company's bid to acquire e-mail archiving specialist and Legato competitor Persist Technologies last week.

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and AppIQ have also partnered with their own brand of ILM products.

IBM may not use the specific term ILM, but Big Blue possesses most of the necessary ECM and storage management pieces to assemble an ILM strategy. What IBM has done in the ILM space is repackage existing infrastructure to formulate offerings for specific compliance rules.

Bob Schultz, an HP senior vice president, reports his company's ILM strategy is all about getting information out.

"Indexing, searching, and retrieving are key aspects," Schultz told internetnews.com. "Our goal is to design an architecture that supports what (customers) need to get done."

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