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Choosing a compliance archiving tool

This Tech Roundup discusses how compliance archiving tools are used, how they are evolving and what the competitive landscape looks like.

Companies that are facing compliance regulations have a variety of archiving products available. Some products address specific applications, such as e-mail, while others enable broad archival for unstructured data, such as documents and audio/video files.

In either case, combining software and hardware for archiving is now a must for industries that face compliance regulations.

This Tech Roundup discusses how compliance archiving tools are used, how they are evolving and what the competitive landscape looks like.

Different archiving tools for different data

Archiving tools range from simple tape backups to application-aware archiving software to content management systems.

Mike Casey, vice president of practice development at Contoural Inc., a compliance and storage consulting firm in Los Altos, Calif., says that companies should select archiving tools based on the type of data they are archiving and their business needs.

Casey notes that some of the business drivers for archiving include compliance requirements (data retention and security), service levels (performance and availability) and cost reduction (server and storage consolidation, media costs and management costs).

Bill Tolson, principal analyst at Contoural, says that there are both technological and procedural aspects to staying compliant.

"Technically, archiving applications used for compliance should apply policies to files, move files based on those policies and keep audit information on files," Tolson says. "Also, the file content should be indexed to make it searchable and be written to specific media depending on regulatory specifics."

The procedural end includes the creation and buyin of a regulatory archival policy before the technology is purchased and the training of your employees, Tolson adds.

Innovations and trends

According to Peter Gerr, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., archiving e-mail for compliance continues to be a top challenge and more organizations are using e-mail archiving products that provide policy-based, automated retention of e-mails.

Such products perform full-text indexing of every e-mail and attachment, retaining only a single copy. "By leveraging a disk-based storage system to house the archive, users now have a searchable repository of all corporate communications," Gerr says.

Another trend, cited by Casey and Tolson of Contoural, is that users are saving all their data rather than determining what should and shouldn't be saved. Tolson says that one company can be subject to several different compliance regulations, which means differing retention periods. "One strategy is to archive everything for the longest retention period that the company is subject to," he says.

A final benefit of having an archiving solution in place, according to Casey and Tolson, is its ability to stop enterprise-wide deletions. At a company with no archiving system, individuals decide what is saved and what is deleted. This can hurt a company when receiving a regulatory inquiry because, at that moment, document and file destruction must stop immediately, and failure to do so can be a compliance liability. "It's very difficult to ensure every employee in a company gets and acts on a stop destruction message quickly," Tolson says.

Key vendors and products

Because archiving and compliance are broad terms, there are myriad vendors specializing in different technologies.

From a hardware perspective, EMC Corp. continues to lead the pack for disk-based archiving with Centera, followed by Network Appliance Inc.'s SnapLock. IBM's DR500 and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Reference Information Storage System offer archiving features as well, but have not been available as long as Centera or SnapLock. Storage Technology Corp., which currently OEMs Permabit Inc.'s Permeon software, is expected to make more of a push into the archiving space this year.

For e-mail archiving, Gerr highlighted Veritas Software Corp./KVS Inc., iLumin Software Services Inc., Zantaz Inc. and EMC/Legato (Email Xtender), adding that many of the e-mail archiving products now allow users to manage unstructured data and e-mail within the same product.

For full-blown enterprise content management systems that offer workflow and lifecycle management tools, the top vendors, according to Gerr, are EMC/Documentum, FileNet Corp., Hummingbird Ltd., IBM and Interwoven Inc. Database application archiving leaders include Princeton Softech and Outerbay Technologies Inc., Gerr says. For search, indexing and migration of data, startups such as Arkivio Inc., Kazeon Systems Inc. and Orchestria Corp. are making headway, according to Gerr, especially when they are integrated with storage systems for the back-end archive.

"These new search products help with compliance because they ensure that data is treated with the right levels of protection and security as it moves through its lifecycle," Gerr says.

Related information:

  • Crash Course: Compliance
  • Use compliance as a technology driver
  • Compliance: Fear and loathing in 2004
  • Compliance: Do you speak geek?
  • Tech Roundup: Archiving tools
  • StorageTek joins fixed content archiving fray
  • EMC, Sun tout compliance wares

For more information:

  • For compliance, neither SAN nor NAS are a slam dunk
  • Topics: Compliance
  • What regulatory compliance means for storage security

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