IBM Offers Compliance in a Box

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IBM is looking to lure compliance-conscious customers with its preservationist vision.

The company Thursday unveiled a storage box equipped with software to meet and maintain government regulations regarding information retention.

Companies that offer storage products have shown considerable interest in creating compliance software and services since regulators cracked down as a result of accounting scandals by installing rules that prescribe retention periods for e-mails, business transactions, and contracts in such industries as financial and medical.

IBM has reached back into its deep product portfolio and put together a single product suite peppered with software and hardware from a few of its product lines. The company reports its TotalStorage Data Retention 450 solution, which houses storage, software, and server components, has been designed specifically to provide life-long data retention in a single cabinet.

IBM TotalStorage Data Retention 450

IBM TotalStorage
Data Retention 450

The machine, which starts at $141,600, will be available next month and will feature IBM’s eServer pSeries UNIX servers with IBM TotalStorage products and a refreshed version of its IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Data Retention software.

Alan Stuart, IBM’s Chief Strategist for Compliance and Data Retention, says the solution allows customers to gain a single point of control to adhere to standards such as the healthcare industry’s HIPAA rules or the financial reporting Sarbanes-Oxley regulations.

Stuart also told that the DR 450 is more than a repackaging or bundling of mainstay products. While many rivals offer storage boxes, Stuart says IBM’s new Tivoli Storage Manager for Data Retention software features data integrity and data retention policies capabilities that don’t exist elsewhere.

For example, policies exist to allow data to be stored forever or to expire after a specified date. The retention enforcement feature may be applied to data using deletion “hold and release” interfaces, which can be used to hold data for an indefinite period of time during government audits or legal investigations.

The new software, embedded on an entry-level p615 using POWER 4+ processors, can also verify that data is written correctly and can help ensure that no modifications or deletions are made after it is stored. The basic DR 450 ships with 3.5 terabytes and, to adjust to the size of the business and degree of data, offers scalability to 56 terabytes.

IBM has long offered compliance solutions and services to its customers based on software it has acquired or developed over the years, including Tivoli Storage Manager and DB2 Content Manager. Last October, IBM released a slew of software and services packages backed by the company’s business consulting unit.

In the storage arena, the compliance issue has come to the fore courtesy of well-marketed product releases from rivals EMC , Network Appliance , and Hitachi Data Systems . For example, EMC launched a full-fledged data retention server in April 2003.

But until this point, Big Blue had never had a large, formal storage product to address the issues. Enterprise Storage Group Senior Analyst Peter Gerr believes the public shouldn’t underestimate IBM’s breadth of offerings in the content management and storage arena, where some key products go back 10 to 12 years.

“IBM has been selling products to address compliance regulations, such as complete content management solutions, for more than a decade, but they haven’t done a good job organizing the fiefdoms around IBM,” Gerr told “They’ve got Tivoli Storage Manager, storage servers, and DB2 Content Manager, so they haven’t been as organized, until now.”

Gerr said he is glad to see IBM separating itself from the rest of the pack by not latching on to the information lifecycle management (ILM) trend of managing data from creation to disposal. But he said he fully expects IBM to give rivals a run for their money in the space going forward, with the help of their product and services arsenal leading the way.

Story courtesy of Internet News.

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Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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