IBM Offers Compliance in A Box

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

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

Companies who offer storage products have shown considerable interest in creating compliance software and services since regulators cracked down on accounting scandals by installing rules that prescribe retention periods for e-mails, business transactions and contracts in such fields as finance or medical.

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

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

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

Stuart also told that DR 450 is more than a repackaging or bundling of mainstay products. While many rivals offer storage boxes, Stuart said 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 expire. The retention enforcement feature may be applied to data using deletion hold and release interfaces which 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 help ensure that no modifications or deletions are made after it is stored. To adjust to the size of the business and degree of data, the DR 450 can be shipped with 3.5 terabytes and scale to 56 terabytes.

IBM has long had compliance solutions and services to offer its customers based on software it has accrued 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 said 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 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.

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