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IBM Chases Compliance Dollars

Packages products and services for regulatory compliance. But how much help do users need?

Recognizing a headache for customers and a lucrative market for themselves, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) today unwrapped a series of products and services to help companies comply with new government regulations.

The storage industry is struggling with solutions to tame the Cerberus-headed compliance monster of three recently enacted federal laws -- the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Patriot Act -- as well as privacy issues resulting from other laws and regulations.

Analysts expect businesses will spend billions of dollars on compliance in the next few years, and IBM says its new tools will help them store and protect sensitive financial and private customer data.

"We're addressing what we call 'content and data retention,' " says Alan Stuart, IBM's senior strategist for storage software. "It's also known as 'compliance,' but it goes way beyond that."

IBM's new offerings include a Serial ATA (SATA) disk expansion unit that can provide up to 28 Tbytes of capacity for the TotalStorage FastT600 and up 56 Tbytes for a FastT900. IBM also plans to introduce Write Once Read Many (WORM) capability for its TotalStorage Enterprise Tape Drive 3592 in April. WORM technology helps with compliance because data stored on the cartridge can't be overwritten. Because tape is cheaper than disks and lasts longer, it could be the superior choice for storing records that must be kept for years.

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