Regulations Push Content Management into the Storage Arena
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Keeping tabs on content is more important than ever, thanks to the profusion
of federal regulations from Sarbanes-Oxley to HIPPA, which require companies
to safeguard and archive data for an extended period of time. This means a
content management strategy for the enterprise must go beyond the databases
that marked the beginnings of the content management industry and
incorporate storage as well.
It's called "information lifecycle management" (ILM) and the idea is perhaps
best seen at work when you look at what storage vendor EMC has done with its
products and acquisitions over the last two years. EMC acquired content
management vendor Documentum in October 2003 and storage software maker
Legato in July 2003. But it is the company's work in cont
ent-addressed storage (CAS) that most reflects the changes in how
enterprises deal with their content.
The premise of ILM, according to Roy Sanford, EMC's vice president of
content-addressed storage, is that the value of information changes over
time, and the value does not always drop. CAS uses provides a digital
fingerprint for a stored piece of data. The fingerprint (also known as an ID
or logical address) ensures that it is the same exact piece of data that was
saved. No duplicates are ever stored.
CAS goes a step beyond mere archiving by keeping content under a virtual
lock and key until it's needed or regulations allow it to be purged from the
system. In today's world of content, where contracts, correspondence, and
financial data must be saved under penalty of law, it's become a popular way
to store information.
"We've seen the compliance market blossom for our customers," said Sanford.
"It continues to grow. It's interesting to see the application space
continue to expand. It's more broader than we imagined at the time."
EMC introduced the idea of content-addressed storage with its Centera
product, which quickly found traction among companies looking for help
managing their content in a world of new federal regulations and corporate
governance. Sanford said Centera has seen "substantial growth" in the past
year, as well as an increase in partners interested in working with EMC on
Centera applications. There are more than 100 integrated applications;
Centera has been integrated with more than 40 products from content
management vendors; and the product has been used to build applications for
storing medical images, and for backup and archiving applications.
"We're seeing an uptick in digitizing non-digital content," Sanford said.
Content that existed only on paper or videotape -- any form of media -- can
be digitized and added to a CAS application. Sanford also said Centera users
are bringing content from optical and tape storage systems and giving it a
home in CAS applications.
CAS systems can't compete with network-attached storage for speed, so they
are best used for storing fixed content, i.e., content that doesn't need to
be recalled often, but that needs its integrity well-protected.
EMC's success with Centera hasn't gone unnoticed by other companies looking
to merge their storage products with ILM. Hewlett-Packard used technology it
acquired from Persist to build its Reference Information Storage System
(RISS), and archive and indexing application that focuses on the messaging
market. Permabit's Permeon software uses CAS in its Reference Vault product
for fixed-content storage.
Both Permabit, with its Permeon Compliance Vault, and EMC's Centera
Compliance Edition have taken aim at the market for managing content that is
subject to federal and corporate regulations.
In June, EMC improved Centera, adding retention classes that allow users to
change retention policies for an entire class of content instead of managing
each piece of content individually, as well as a configurable default
retention period, which allows the storage administrator to specify a
default retention period in the event an application does not or cannot
Enterprises can no longer overlook the storage of fixed-content assets, and
CAS provides a way for the content to be retained and kept secure until
needed. It's alo puuting storage vendors right in the middle of the content
"Once it was a have-to-do, now it's a need-to-do," said EMC's Sanford.
"Whether it was SOX or the realization that archived assets need integrity."
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