Compliance: Be afraid, be very afraid

Posted on February 01, 2005

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Just kidding. I don’t want to fan the Y2K-like hysteria surrounding regulatory compliance. The vendor community is trying to scare you (into buying lots of storage) by emphasizing the fines and imprisonment that await companies who fail to comply with regulations such as SOX, HIPAA, SEC, etc.

If you’re a Fortune 1000 and/or financial services and/or healthcare organization, then compliance is a big issue-and you probably already have a sophisticated system in place to meet the requirements. However, for many other companies, meeting compliance requirements may be relatively simple.

Our Special Report this month (see “How users are addressing regulatory compliance,” p. 20) by senior technical editor Heidi Biggar presents a number of user case studies. In some cases compliance did require significant storage hardware/software purchases, but in other cases it was trivial and inexpensive.

An excerpt: “As Partners In Health’s MIS coordinator Yusuf Karacaoglu can attest, [HIPAA] regulatory compliance does not have to be complicated. In fact, it can be downright straightforward. For PIH, it boiled down to two words: WORM tape.” Not only did the healthcare organization secure its data and meet HIPAA requirements with inexpensive, easy-to-install WORM tape, but in the process, also reduced its backup time from 8 hours to 1.5 hours.

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In a survey of 152 storage professionals (mostly at Fortune 1000 companies) conducted by TheInfo-Pro research firm, users were evenly split on how much impact compliance regulations would have on their organizations (see pie chart).

The good thing about compliance is that although storage vendors are over-hyping the issue, they are also coming out with some very solid products (sometimes at reasonable prices) that make compliance a no-brainer. Read our Special Report this month for some examples.

McData + CNT

Following on the heels of the Symantec-Veritas deal, McData last month announced its plan to acquire CNT (see “McData ‘Super Sizes’ with CNT acquisition,” p. 8). Was this a smart move? Let’s put it this way: It was McD’s only move.

Although a Cisco-McData acquisition (or even Brocade-McData) would have made more sense from a competitive standpoint, those deals failed to materialize, leaving McData in the less-than-enviable position of facing Brocade and Cisco on its own. According to conventional wisdom, the SAN switch/director market isn’t big enough for five vendors (QLogic also sells SAN switches, not to mention a bunch of start-ups) so something had to give.

McData gets some good SAN/WAN extension products out of the CNT deal but I think the combined company will eventually have to drop CNT’s UMD line of directors-way too much overlap with McData’s Intrepid directors (see “McData ships 256-port backbone director,” p. 8).

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I don’t think the CNT acquisition will improve McData’s chances against Brocade and Cisco. Whatever the company’s odds were in those battles they’ll remain the same post-acquisition. And the outcome will probably have more to do with what’s going on between EMC and Cisco than it will with McData’s technology or size.

Dave Simpson
Editor-in-chief


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