STK targets fixed content, compliance

Posted on February 02, 2005

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By Heidi Biggar

StorageTek this week expanded its write-once, read-many (WORM) capabilities beyond tape to include disk media with the introduction of its Lifecycle Fixed Content Manager (LFCM) 100, a SATA-based disk system for the long-term storage of fixed content and compliance-related data--in particular, e-mail.

For the WORM disk capability, StorageTek turned to start-up Permabit's Permeon Compliance Vault software, which provides the WORM disk support. The Permeon software converts LFCM SATA disks into non-erasable, non-rewritable WORM disks for regulatory compliance purposes.

Other WORM disk vendors include EMC (Centera), Hewlett-Packard (StorageWorks Reference Information Storage Systems, or RISS), IBM (TotalStorage Data Retention 450), Network Appliance (SnapLock and LockVault), and Archivas (Arc).

StorageTek was among the first vendors to introduce WORM support for tape media in 2000 when it introduced VolSafe WORM media for use with its T9840 and T9940 series tape drives and libraries.

Company officials say that although StorageTek has no plans to discontinue the VolSafe WORM tape media, the new WORM disk option provides additional flexibility.

"Our customers have been asking us for a solution for fixed content, archive, and compliance [to meet] e-mail storage and SEC 17a-4 requirements," says Fred Crowe, marketing manager of StorageTek's Information Lifecycle Management Solutions (ILMS) Group.

But aside from the VolSafe WORM tape option, which only works with StorageTek's T Series drives, STK has not had a product offering in the WORM disk space.

"StorageTek had primary disk, low-cost disk and tape, but they lacked a disk product that supported WORM--and the LFCM fills that gap," says Dianne McAdam, senior analyst and partner at the Data Mobility Group consulting firm.

According to StorageTek's Crowe, the scale of the archive will determine which product--WORM disk or WORM tape--is appropriate, Generally, WORM tape is best for very large archives (i.e., those in excess of 100TB), for which disk is no longer cost-effective, according to Crowe. WORM disk archives are typically in the range of 2TB to 10TB, although the LFCM system can currently scale to 18TB.

In addition, users could use the two products--WORM tape and WORM disk--in combination. "If IT needs WORM support for compliance, then they could store the data on WORM disk and later migrate it to WORM tape," explains McAdam.

While StorageTek did not give specifics about future plans, the company did say that LFCM 100 is the first in a series of products in this space due out later this year. These products are expected to form multiple tiers of options for users as they address regulatory compliance issues. What is unclear is whether StorageTek will develop these products in-house or whether it will rely on third-party partnerships.

According to StorageTek's Crowe, companies representing both financial and non-financial industries have expressed interest in WORM disk support. Financial industries want the technology to meet SEC 17a-4 requirements; companies in other industries are looking to apply SEC 17a-4 "best practices" to their environments, he says.

"Many customers are also implementing these systems after they've been hit with SEC fines--as a way to [reduce the penalty]," says Crowe. For example, a large financial services firm was able to reduce its fine by 80% by implementing a compliance solution, according to Crowe.

The LFCM currently scales from 2.3TB to 18.6TB, with additional scalability due later this year. The system features a RAIN (redundant array of independent nodes) architecture, which the company claims improves performance and allows for easier rebuilds for data-protection purposes. For additional protection, users can replicate data between two LFCM systems.

The system uses industry standard protocols (CIFS and NFS) to read and write data and to set retention periods. LFCM can be integrated with third-party applications, such as e-mail archiving applications from CommVault, iLumin, and IXOS. Support for KVS and AXS-One is expected later this quarter.

A base-level system with 2.3TB of capacity lists from $74,000; an 18.6TB configuration is priced from $435,000.


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