IBM, Iron Mountain Unite on Records Management

Despite technology’s promise of creating a paperless office environment, enterprises still struggle with growing piles of digital records.

“Businesses continue to swim in a vast sea of refined wood pulp,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “The sheer complexity of dealing with huge volumes of paper documents has implications for everything from managing accounting processes to meeting legal compliance requirements.”

But two storage titans are collaborating to ease those management pains.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) is combining its FileNet Records Manager with Iron Mountain’s (NYSE: IRM) Accutrac software to create a tool to manage both paper and digital records.

“We’re just under way, and our respective engineers have begun to collaborate on integrating the technology behind our two systems,” said Greg Nicastro, executive vice president of Iron Mountain’s integrated solutions group. He said both vendors will be talking with respective customers to learn what they need in terms of tool functionality.

The partnership is strategic for both storage vendors given the competitive data storage and management market.

Iron Mountain has been striving for some time to duplicate its dominance in the physical document management sector in the competitive digital records industry, while IBM is trying to keep up with the likes of HP (NYSE: HPQ) and EMC (NYSE: EMC), and just opened a $10 million dollar Global Archive Solutions Center for helping companies build long-term plans for data archival.

IBM’s FileNet Records Manager helps enterprises classify, apply retention policies and store electronic records according to fiscal, legal and regulatory requirements. Iron Mountain’s Accutrac software lets enterprises manage active and inactive records wherever they reside, from a single interface. The melding of the two tools will leverage IBM ZeroClick technology for administering records.

“Through the integration, customers will enjoy improved access to all of their records, whether paper or electronic, active or inactive,” Nicastro said.

“This ability to apply one set of policies — retention schedules and litigation holds — to all records is vital,” Nicastro said. “Organizations have better control over information, enabling a quicker response to discovery requests during litigation and ensuring a greater likelihood for complying with retention and privacy legislation.”

The joint product is an extension of a strategic relationship begun earlier this year when Iron Mountain launched its Digital Record Center for Images, an archive for electronic data powered by IBM’s Content Manager onDemand software. The two companies expect to release the new product later this year.

The new tool will also allow for better decision making and facilitate consistent record-keeping practices for classifying, tracking and managing documents.

“This isn’t a paper versus digital fight,” Nicastro continued. “Organizations must manage information in a uniform way, so they can find it quickly, use it and comply with mounting regulations.”

Managing electronic records is a significant problem, but when combined with historic and new paper records, document management becomes an extremely challenging job, explained Brian Babineau, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

While paper-based documents are the most open format in terms of saving critical documents, the generation of e-mail, spreadsheets and digital records such as engineering drawings isn’t conducive to an all paper-based document strategy.

“At some point, there will be a changeover when an organization determines that certain records should not be stored in paper,” Babineau noted, adding that digital format storage has many benefits and can be much more accessible and more easily transported.

IBM and Iron Mountain’s document tool effort isn’t the first tool to hit the market. CA (NASDAQ: CA) offers Records Manager, which lets users manage both paper and digital records and also integrates with the vendor’s information management portfolio solutions. And EMC has made its own efforts to blend digital and paper records.

“IBM and Iron Mountain aim to address those challenges with a blended solution that creates a ‘best practices’ approach to commonly managing physical and electronic documents,” King noted.

Such tools can provide more consistent control over business records, Babineau explained. Right now most companies rarely enforce record disposition policies across business records, especially electronic records.

“The fewer tools that organizations have to manage all the records, the less likely they are to make a mistake, such as delete a record or save something too long, or not find what they are looking for when they are forced to find something,” Babineau said.

Article courtesy of Internet News

Judy Mottl
Judy Mottl is an experienced technology journalist who has served as a senior editor, reporter, writer, and blogger for InformationWeek, Investors Business Daily, CNET, and Information Security Magazine, as well as other media outlets.

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