Technologies Converge To Secure Record-Keeping

The same is true for companies complying with Sarbanes-Oxley, Federal Drug Administration and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) record-keeping rules. Even when immutability is not a requirement, companies are dumping records into archives.

To tap into this opportunity, storage vendors are beginning to tout a relatively new technology called fixed-content storage, also known as content-addressable storage. Others are working at the software level.

>> Vendors are beginning to tout a relatively new technology called fixed-content storage.

For content management solution providers, fixed-content storage promises easier application deployment and a larger role in delivering end-to-end solutions.

"It's a key offering for us," said Ellen Reilly, vice president of Fujitsu Consulting, Edison, N.J., referring to EMC's fixed-content storage array, called Centera. "It shows an overall comprehensive strategy."

Sponsored post

EMC, Hopkinton, Mass., is not the only vendor offering fixed-content storage.

StorageTek, Louisville, Colo., and Network Appliance, Sunnyvale, Calif., also offer hardware with their own versions of content-addressable storage.

The technology assigns a unique identifier to each object based on its content. When these objects are stored, the storage software uses a mathematical form-ula to generate a unique identifier based on the content of the object.

Users can access objects via the identifiers without having to know where an object is stored. If the object is modified, the identifier is no longer valid.

Aside from hardware vendors, ISVs such as Software Engineering, Bloomington, Minn., are developing software that turns ordinary servers and storage arrays into fixed-content storage devices.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Legato Systems, which last week announced it is being acquired by EMC, is taking another approach by integrating storage management applications with content management software Legato gained last year in its acquisition of OTG Software.

The pace of the integration between storage and content management will continue to accelerate, said Arsenio Batoy, president of Optical Laser, Huntington Beach, Calif., a Legato distributor that specializes in content management hardware and software.

"The line-of-business managers in the past let the IT department of their companies handle storage issues," Batoy said. "But now, with compliance issues on the front burner, the line-of-business managers ... will be more and more involved with storage decisions."

That means that solution providers will also be more involved in storage issues, and Optical Laser sees a role for itself in helping to make that connection.

"We don't do integration," Batoy said. "But during the presales period, when customers have an RFQ or an RFP, our people can be on the phone or on-site to help architect a SAN for a customer and do on-site training in how imaging applies to SANs."

There are plenty of challenges in integrating storage and content applications, including getting the applications to work with storage and resolving operating system issues, said Kent Curtis, COO of DR Systems, San Diego, which develops an imaging and archiving solution for the health-care industry.

But Curtis said new products such as EMC's Centera are making it easier, and EMC is becoming easier to work with as well.

"They have an aggressive strategy and are implementing it pretty well," Curtis said.

Jeff Stromberg, president of Ancept, a Minneapolis-based IBM partner that develops digital asset management solutions for Hollywood film studios, is just starting to look at what he calls intelligent storage technologies.

"From an application standpoint, it's great," he said. "It would alleviate the need for us to do a lot of work. You lean on the hardware more."