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IBM Bundles Servers, Storage, Software For Compliance And Data Retention

IBM on Thursday unveiled a new bundle of servers, storage and software aimed at helping customers retain and preserve electronic business records in response to government and industry regulations.

While EMC is tackling compliance issues with its Centera storage appliance and vendors such as Network Appliance and Hitachi Data Systems are bundling their storage arrays with software from third-party developers, the IBM TotalStorage Data Retention 450 brings together off-the-shelf components currently available from IBM and allows solution providers to offer a variety of value-adds, said Alan Stuart, chief strategist for IBM compliance and data retention solutions.

The 450 is based on IBM's pSeries servers, FAStT storage arrays and Tivoli Storage Manager for Data Retention. The software includes the ability to create data-retention policies which can be triggered by specific events. For instance, when a bank account is opened, the bank cannot know how long the customer will keep the account open and so cannot specify the length of time of data retention for information regarding the account. However, the bank can specify that data about the account should be deleted three years after the account is closed, and the software can handle the timing, Stuart said.

The software also allows a delete request to be held if, for instance, a customer is sued and needs to keep particular data longer than originally expected, Stuart said. For example, some records may be scheduled to be deleted two years after an account closes, but if the company is sued and the lawsuit takes 10 years, the delete request can be put on hold and the data can be retained throughout the period. After all legal issues are resolved, the data can be reset to its original deletion schedule.

Solution providers can add additional components to the 450 solution when necessary, Stuart said. This is especially important when customers require tiered storage, where data that must be retained but that is not accessed regularly can be migrated to lower-cost storage devices such as optical drives or tape in order to free up costly hard-drive storage. "A lot of data goes inactive within a year and then is never accessed," he said.

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