RealTime IT News

Permabit Wants to Make its Mark on Storage

Storage software maker Permabit unveiled its latest product to help address regulatory compliance issues Tuesday, with new software that safeguards e-mails, instant messages and other documents from destruction.

One of the few companies to address specific content addressed storage (CAS), Permabit unveiled Permeon Compliance Vault to help enterprise meet the rules of such government regulations as SEC 17a-4, HIPAA, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Stephen Ellis, co-founder and vice president of business development at the Cambridge, Mass., company, said Compliance Vault software turns magnetic disk-based hardware into non-rewriteable and non-erasable Write Once, Read Many (WORM) storage in order to make record retention management and data integrity possible.

Ellis said Permabit has worked hard to provide a granular, yet stringent, record retention policy as possible in Compliance Vault. For example, users may extend and set new retention periods in the future, but cannot shorten them.

And, while it's one thing to be able to preserve files for the duration of their lifetime, it's another to retrieve a single file from a database with millions.

But Permeon's CAS architecture divides individual files into blocks and assigns each block of data a unique content address, or "finger print" based on its actual content. The software recalculates this content address as it writes the block to disk, verifying that the record was stored intact, he said.

Compliance Vault generates content certificates, which record its content address. Customers can use these content certificates to prove that a record has not changed throughout its lifetime.

Ellis said Permeon's software also saves just one copy (plus a replica) of any block of data. For all subsequent blocks with the same content, Permeon saves a pointer to this copy to save capacity. Permeon's architecture also allows users to distribute data cleanly across storage servers in the system for balancing resources.

Ellis said Permabit's main rival in the space is EMC, which offers its Centera content-addressed storage software as a piece of its information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy.

While Ellis said the Hopkinton, Mass.-based vendor's technology is sound, he told internetnews.com, a key difference is that Permabit relies on industry standards, such as NFS and CIFS file system interfaces, to sell its software through partners and resellers. It works with most e-mail archiving and content management applications.

EMC, he said, relies on its own application programming interfaces (APIs), which means customers can get locked in to using EMC hardware even if they think they can find a better deal elsewhere. It is this pitfall that turns some more discerning customers off to EMC in the storage space.

By bundling Permeon Compliance Vault into hardware systems by the likes of Dell, HP and IBM, Ellis said Permabit has a great chance to show customers that its software can enforce retention periods, ensure lifetime record integrity, and benefit from fast record retrieval just as well if not better than more mainstream vendors.