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IBM Unveils Compliance-Focused Storage, Software

IBM on Wednesday introduced storage and software to help companies meet government mandates in healthcare, financial services, and other industries.
IBM on Wednesday introduced storage and software to help companies meet government mandates in healthcare, financial services, and other industries.

The Armonk, N.Y., company calls its offerings the Risk and Compliance Framework, which IBM hopes will attract companies wrestling with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Basel II, and other regulations that require retention of data for specific periods of time.

For holding data, IBM offers the TotalStorage DR550, which is powered by IBM's Power5 processor and stores up to 56 terabytes of data. The system is managed through IBM's Tivoli Data Storage for Data Retention software. Pricing for the IBM TotalStorage DR550 starts at $81,123, and ships in November. The IBM Bank Data Warehousing Software is available as of 10/29

Also part of the framework is an enhanced TotalStorage tapeline that supports attaching the IBM 3494 B10 and B20 Virtual Tape Server models to the IBM TotalStoage 3592 Tape Drive. This enables long-term data archival.

The compliance-geared storage fits IBM's strategy of providing technology that can manage data from its creation to the time it can be disposed. Other companies that have similar strategies for information life-cycle management include EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, and StorageTek.

IBM, however, has a broad portfolio of hardware and software that it can craft into packages that target industry-specific problems, Mike Schiff, analyst for market researcher Current Analysis, said.

"This is IBM's strategy for going after specific industries and functional areas," Schiff said. "[The bundles] solve a problem, as opposed to just being technology."

Going after the compliance market also gives IBM and other information-technology companies an entry into the executive suite, since chief financial officers and chief executives are the ones directly responsible for making sure their companies follow government mandates. This means sales can be approved a lot quicker.

"It's a much higher sale within an organization," Schiff said. "It's much higher than the IT department."

On Monday, IBM released financial results that listed IBM's enterprise-systems group, which makes servers and storage systems, as the company's strongest performer. The unit's sales rose 9 percent and its pretax income jumped 32 percent. The company reported its best third quarter in recent years, with overall revenues rising 8.9 percent and net income increasing 0.8 percent, despite costs of a recent lawsuit settlement.

Besides storage hardware, IBM's compliance framework also includes new software packages, such as the IBM Solution for Compliance in a Regulated Environment, or SCORE. The product helps life-sciences companies reduce the cycle time for trials and to analyze and correct manufacturing data faster.

Other software includes the IBM Bank Data Warehousing Software, a data repository for financial companies faced with reporting procedures to meet International Accounting Standards, Basel II and Sarbanes-Oxley.

IBM's eForms and Records Management Solution for Government uses Big Blue's Tivoli identity-management software and VeriSign authentication technology to create, digitally sign, archive, and retrieve electronic forms. The software is meant to mitigate the risk of litigation.