Index Engines Intros Direct Tape Extraction

Removes the need for go-between backup software to index data on tapes

November 20, 2007

4 Min Read
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Index Engines has added features to its Tape Engine appliance that lets customers extract and organize data directly from tapes and tape libraries for litigation search.

The Holmdel, N.J.-based vendor, which claims 32 direct customers and many more indirect ones, made its mark in the last three years by grabbing metadata from offline tapes, organizing it, and turning it into a searchable repository. Though Index Engines can also organize data from disk, the ability to work with archived tape formats, albeit ones restored from tape to disk first, helped differentiate it from competitors like Kazeon or StoredIQ.

In a newly released eDiscovery Edition, the vendor has added software that extracts data directly from tapes, using a technique the vendor plans to patent. Previously, customers had to use backup software (CA ArcServe, IBM TSM, Symantec NetBackup or Backup Exec, or EMC NetWorker) to restore archived files and email to disk before using the Index Engines appliance to create a searachable index. What's more, customers had to restore the data one tape at a time.

Now, customers can extract data right from tape. They also can hook the Tape Engine appliance to tape libraries to speed up the process. "We support a Fibre Channel or SCSI connection to all common tape drives," says Index Engines VP of marketing Jim McGann. "We have an auto-configure capability that determines the controls -- and configures our indexing engine to manage the robotics during the indexing process."

At least one analyst thinks the shortcuts could serve many organizations well. "Index Engines has essentially reversed how organizations look for data on backup tapes for electronic discovery purposes," states analyst Brian Babineauof the Enterprise Strategy Group. "There is a magnitude of cost savings by taking this approach, as it takes far less people to create the tape index and complete searches. Organizations can also save money just by knowing what tapes to restore."According to Index Engines VP of marketing Jim McGann, big companies can become proactive instead of reactive by taking advantage of the savings provided by indexing right from tape. "Research shows that big companies handle an average of 300 lawsuits per year," says McGann. "They need the details of tape content."

One Index Engines partner says he's already seeing clients get more proactive. "We were just spinning 45,000 tapes for a government pension fund that needed historical data to minimize liability," says Jeffrey Fehrman, president of Electronic Evidence Labs, a division of litigation support company ONSITE3. He claims he's been able to save "50 to 70 percent" of the time formerly required to organize unstructured data for clients, thanks to Index Engines's extraction utility. The speed savings -- and therefore cost savings -- encouraged at least one client to be proactive instead of reactive in isolating data it may need for litigation.

On the downside, Index Engines only supports Exchange email, though it plans to add Lotus Notes support at an unspecified date in 2008. Also, the vendor continues to support only its own integral search engine. Customers who would like to use search engines from Google or other enterprise search specialists will be out of luck.

Index Engines plays in an increasingly volatile market for e-discovery products and services. As big companies such as Autonomy and Iron Mountain look to get into the act, smaller firms appear to be more vulnerable. A winning product can build success quickly, while the wrong combination can be fatal. The recent demise of Index Engines competitor Scentric is a case in point.

Index Engines's basic appliance, which incorporates the ability to organize and search files and email, still starts at $50,000. The new Extraction Module, available now, costs an additional $25,000.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Autonomy Corp.

  • CA Inc. (NYSE: CA)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Index Engines Inc.

  • Iron Mountain Inc. (NYSE: IRM)

  • Kazeon Inc.

  • StoredIQ Corp.

  • Symantec Corp.

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