STK targets fixed content, compliance

Posted on March 01, 2005

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By Heidi Biggar

StorageTek recently 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 Permeon Compliance Vault software from start-up Permabit. The 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 while 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 in 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 theLFCM fills that gap,” says Dianne McAdam, senior analyst and partner at the Data Mobility Group consulting firm.

StorageTek’s Crowe says 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, he adds. WORM disk archives are typically in the range of 2TB to 10TB, although the LFCM system can currently scale to 18TB.

Additionally, 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 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 StorageTek claims improves performance and allows for easier rebuilds for data-protection purposes. For additional protection, users can also replicate data between two LFCM systems.

The system uses industry standard protocols (CIFS and NFS) to read and write data. 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 is priced from $74,000, and an 18.6TB configuration starts at $435,000.


Storability upgrades ESRM software

Storability, a division of StorageTek, recently shipped the 4.0 version of its Global Storage Manager (GSM) enterprise storage resource management (ESRM) software for heterogeneous storage environments.

GSM 4.0 is the first product to come out of Storability since it was acquired by StorageTek last September and is sold under the Storability-not StorageTek-label.

The decision to run Storability as a separate division with its own brand of products was made in an effort to retain Storability’s entrepreneurial identity while giving it the necessary financial backing to develop its GSM platform going forward, according to Joel Kimball, president and general manager of Storability and a former StorageTek executive.

GSM 4.0 gives users various views of the storage environment, depending on their roles within the organization (e.g., CIO, IT architect, storage administrator). The goal is for organizations to use these multiple perspectives to make storage decisions that are better aligned with business objectives.

CIOs, for example, can view data relevant to regulatory and service level agreement (SLA) compliance, operational efficiency, etc., while IT architects can be provided with technical information about the environment’s scalability, security, etc. And configuration management, data availability, performance management, etc., information can be funneled to storage administrators.

In addition to multiple perspectives, the software features new backup analysis-reporting capabilities (e.g., to detect servers that are not being backed up properly), as well as impact analysis capabilities (e.g., the ability to identify copies of data for chargeback purposes, detect and recover orphaned storage, or detect changes in the environment).

Storability has also expanded the software’s hardware and software support to include Cisco switches, Novell servers, and IBM tape libraries. The software also supports the SMI-S storage management standard.

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