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EMC Releases Records Retention Storage System

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When Enron was found to have shredded incriminating documents, it touched off an avalanche of concern for increased records retention and with it, created new opportunities for storage-oriented firms to make new products to address this issue.

EMC Tuesday became the first to tap an emerging market for records retention products when it released a specialized content addressed storage (CAS) system designed to meet more stringent records retention regulations, dubbed EMC Centera Compliance Edition.The Hopkinton, Mass.’s firm built the specialized server in it popular Centera line from scratch to meet the challenges associated with retaining such content as document images, e-mail, X-rays and medical records. Centera boxes, which compete with machines such as IBM’s Shark, and Hitachi’s Freedom and Lightning systems, are considered by analysts to be very reliable and scale to hundreds of terabytes without requiring additional management overhead.

Enterprise Storage Group Steve Duplessie acknowledged that minding records retention regulations “is becoming the hottest issue in IT.” He also predicted data permanence will be a rule in every IT department.

“As a result, there will be a huge demand for cost-efficient disk-based systems capable of storing objects permanently, in an unalterable state,” Duplessie said. EMC Centera is the first such solution, and EMC Centera Compliance Edition has already proven to meet today’s toughest regulatory requirements.”

The Centera Compliance Edition includes retention enforcement, which enables compliance officials to set retention periods on electronic records, and satisfies regulations such as the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) rule that all e-mails must be saved by investment firms and the like for three years in case they desire to inspect them.

CAS also ensures that deleted data cannot be recovered using disk scanning tools, pursuant to Defense Department regulations for data destruction. Lastly, the machine provides application access security, which permits systems operators to establish access security and authorized activities at the application or server level, and ensures the privacy of sensitive records for regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

A records retention expert vouched for the importance of such systems. Robert Williams, president of records management consulting firm Cohasset Associates, said electronic records management is an important issue IT firms must address.

Despite the new laws and regulations, Williams said most organizations cannot access electronic records they created just a few years ago, “much less demonstrate in a legal proceeding that those records are still accurate, reliable and trustworthy.”

EMC Centera list price begins at $64,000 for Centera hardware and $84,000 for Centera software. That adds up to $148,000 for system configured with 4 terabytes of storage. Other new Centera features include Content Parity Protection (CPP) for improved capacity utilization, and enhanced replication management, which lets users set policies for replicating content.

In related news, EMC also announced early financial results for the first quarter of 2003. EMC expects total consolidated revenue to be within the range of $1.35 billion and $1.4 billion, and earnings per share to be at least $.01 per diluted share — all in line with analyst expectations.

The company will report earnings April 16.

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