Insider: Compliance, the Bright Side

Byte and Switch Insider explores the upside of compliance requirements

May 25, 2004

2 Min Read
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For storage networkers, the landslide of new "compliance" laws is a mixed blessing, says a new report from Byte and Switch Insider, this publication's paid subscription research service.

The report, "Compliance: Do No Evil," says that on one hand, the latest slew of regulations governing corporate documentation, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley act, can be viewed negatively as the regrettable result of a few bad apples that are now making life miserable for everyone. On the other, IT and storage professionals can benefit from compliance in several ways:

  • Compliance gives the IT and storage functions a more strategic role in the company.

  • It's another opportunity to emphasize the need for centralized management (i.e., to stop the proliferation of storage islands).

  • It can be a key driver for many firms to implement an overall information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy.

  • It's another step on the path to automated, policy-based management.

Recent laws and regulations may be considered a Full Employment Act for compliance-related workers. Thousands of person-hours will be spent in 2004 to ensure compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley alone, the report states. Besides requiring auditors, accountants, and other experts, a compliance strategy calls for expertise that can only come from storage administrators.

The report gives specific advice on technical issues to consider in any compliance strategy, such as the ability to add indexing to data records, to choose the right medium for data retention, and to make information backup and retention dependent on events rather than just a cycle of time.

Storage admins will need to evaluate products to determine how existing gear can be adapted: Up to 67 percent of companies expect to deal with compliance using tools they already have, the report states.Storage personnel must also evaluate new offerings, those coming from vendors that view compliance as an unprecedented boon to the market. The report details what's involved, by describing how four major players -- EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) -- are approaching compliance. It also lists offerings from over 55 vendors, and charts major partnerships across the industry.

This last is key, since the report points out that industry partnerships among IT and storage vendors are proliferating, and many of these partners are firms that storage vendors have never been allied with before -- specifically, enterprise content management and records management companies.

Bottom line? Storage expertise is key to managing compliance, which is not a bad thing if you're looking for job security. The trick will be setting the right plans in place to determine exactly what is needed and how it can be obtained -- either through existing products or new ones.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

More information about the current Byte and Switch Insider report, "Compliance: Do No Evil," is available here0

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