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CAS Matures, Confusion Remains

Although content addressable storage (CAS) is moving into the mainstream because of compliance and rapidly growing digital content, there remains much confusion about what the technology is and its place in the overall archiving picture.

According to the latest Byte and Switch Insider, CAS is no longer an experimental technology for early adopters. It is considered a storage technology choice by mainstream businesses that have to deal with their offices moving to become paperless. However, it is not a term that customers bandy about, and even some vendors whose product fits the category are reluctant to call their products CAS.

The report, "Content Addressable Storage: Market Update," spells out a clear need for the technology because of regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA and litigation rules that mandate organizations keep information readily accessible for decades. Financial services, healthcare, and legal organizations have the greatest need for long-term archiving, although any publicly traded company is subject to regulatory compliance.

These are also early days for CAS standards, with the extensible Access Method (XAM) at the technical specification stage at SNIA. (See SNIA Touts New Storage Interface.) The report says XAM could be ratified by the middle of the year.

The report also identifies 10 major CAS players -- a mix of established storage vendors and startups. EMC's early and aggressive marketing makes it the dominant player, but it faces challenges from interesting contenders. (See EMC Preps Centera.) For instance, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) is making a strong run at the CAS market and startup Caringo technology is driven by Paul Carpentier, who developed software used for EMC's Centera CAS system. (See Hitachi Heads for the Archives and Caringo.)

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