Intelligent apps handle information avalanche


Exponential growth in the volume of information generated by enterprises has gone hand in hand with the launch of a slew of new data archiving products.

However, as storage requirements of businesses get more complex, conventional storage products are not always able to satisfy these needs, industry observers say.

The requirement today, they say, is for “smart” and multi-faceted storage technologies that support compliance policies and practices, beef up security, seamlessly integrate with legacy systems and – most importantly – simplify and streamline content management.

One driver of this trend is user demand for better data management capabilities, according to a Canadian analyst.

“Given the amount of information Canadian firms are collecting – be it from e-mail, CRM or ERP systems – employees want to be able to store data long-term,” says David Senf, manager of software research at analyst firm IDC Canada in Toronto.

The need for smarter and more efficient storage technologies is not restricted to larger enterprises, but witnessed among Canadian mid-sized firms as well.

Thirty-six per cent of midmarket Canadian companies have adopted some form of archiving technology, while 18 per cent are planning on adopting one within the next 12 months, according to an IDC Canada survey.

The increasingly stringent compliance environment is definitely one factor influencing this clamour for better data management tools, says Senf.

According to Senf though, compliance is a far bigger driver for acquiring archiving technology in the U.S. than it is in Canada.

The exception, he says, is Canadian firms that are branches of U.S.-based companies. “The noise around compliance still makes its way over the border and has [caused] companies to look at those tools.” Without an archiving tool, the e-discovery process – in the event of litigation – could mean either sifting through gargantuan volumes of information in search of relevant documents or paying a hefty sum to outsource the task.

Besides those drivers, business continuity and disaster recovery also rank pretty high.

Three products launched by Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec Corp. this week, respond to some of these needs, the company says. The products are:

• Enterprise Vault 7.0: Symantec says this is the first archiving tool to offer automated classification, user-driven classification, the capability to integrate with other enterprise content management systems, as well as with Microsoft Live Communication Server, Windows Rights Management Services, and Windows Desktop Search;

• Information Foundation 2007: a suite of tools designed to provide content and information risk management capability across the enterprise; and,

• Mail Security 6.0 for Exchange: also part of Information Foundation 2007 and due sometime in March, this tool is aimed at reducing risk associated with internal and external information flow via Microsoft Exchange servers, including Exchange 2007.

Enterprise Vault 7.0 meets end user’s need to simplify the archival process, says a Symantec Canada executive.

“It takes the decision [about] what to archive out of the user’s hands,” says Dave Campbell, senior product manager at Symantec Canada.

The software-based application comes with “50 pre-canned policies” that define time of retention and content such as profanity, sexual harassment terms and insider trading. Companies can also create their own policies.

On the flip side, there is the option of applying a human perspective by allowing the individual user to decide if an outgoing or incoming e-mail should be flagged.

Symantec says this option is particularly useful for organizations – such as governmental agencies and financial services – interested in treating e-mails as a record.

Enterprise Vault 7.0 integrates with other enterprise content management systems such as EMC Documentum, IBM DB2 Content Manager and Open Text LegalKey.

According to Campbell, it’s also the first tool to integrate with applications such as Microsoft Corp.’s Live Communication Server, Windows Rights Management Services, and Windows Desktop Search.

“We wanted to provide [users] the ability to search for archived content from an interface [they] use to search for desktop files,” says Campbell.

He says the “familiar look and feel” will benefit both user and IT administrator, and allow the company to take advantage of investments made in other systems “rather than adding a third-party layer that’s not integrated.”

Information Foundation 2007 provides a security layer on top of the archiving capabilities of Enterprise Vault. “It’s for companies interested in a broader spectrum – not just archiving, but ensuring security,” says Campbell.

The single-vendor suite allows a company to set retention policies, be alerted to information loss, and take action on inbound and outbound material that doesn’t meet internal company policy or that of external regulatory bodies.

For instance, blocked content can be automatically picked up, archived, and later reviewed by a “privileged” individual in the company so action may be taken, if needed.

While automating the risk management process is important, so is being able to archive many different types of information.

Today content that needs to be archived includes rich media – including audio, video and image files, says Senf.

He lists surveillance videos and financial and medical data images as instances of rich media content companies may consider archiving.

However, while these other forms of information are becoming more common, Senf notes that text-based data is still the primary focus of enterprises’ archiving strategies.

There is a market demand for a comprehensive tool that archives and protects a range of data types, says Kevin Quinlan, director of regional sales for the software group at EMC Canada Corp. in Toronto

He says EMC’s products respond to this demand by providing the capability to handle information types such as e-mail, text documents, ‘fixed’ content such as faxes, and rich media (images, videos, sound flashes, .html and .xml-based Web documents).

The tools take storage one step further by providing information backup, recovery and archiving from a unified repository while ensuring regulatory compliance, says the EMC executive.

EMC offerings include EmailXtender applications – such as EmailXaminer and EmailXtender Archive Edition – provide automated e-mail retention and disposal to meet regulatory and corporate governance requirements.

EmailXtender tools integrate with popular messaging environments including Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes/Domino.

Other key players in this market include CA, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, and Fortiva.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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