EMC, Sun tout compliance wares

Vendors use the Sarbanes-Oxley deadline today to push their compliance goods; Sun boasts it has a Centera-beater in the pipeline.

EMC Corp. claims it has hit over 1,000 users and shipped more than 30 petabytes (30,000 TB) of storage capacity since the introduction of its Centera product in April 2002.

EMC has been saving up this announcement for today when companies that have publicly owned shares of more than $75 million and that have fiscal years ending on or after Nov. 15 must comply with internal control reporting and disclosure requirements of Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX).

Stephanie Balaouras, analyst with the Yankee Group, predicts that it will take the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) months, maybe years, of auditing to check off all the publicly traded companies in the United States that fall into this bracket. "The deadline is real, though, and it's up today," she said.

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Crash Course: Compliance

Whether EMC foresaw the compliance market or just got lucky in its timing with the launch of Centera, is hard to tell. It didn't introduce the Compliance Edition of the product until more recently, and it doesn't say how many of its users actually bought the product for compliance purposes. It's also unclear from EMC's press materials how much of the 30 petabytes is Centera capacity, versus other storage that might be attached to the Centera.

Still, there's no arguing with the mindshare that EMC has generated by being first to market with this product. Everyone else is playing catch up.

Sun Microsystems Inc. announced today that its StorEdge Compliance Archiving Software for its new 5310 NAS appliance helps users meet federal and regulatory data compliance requirements. It's a single piece of software that provides a WORM (write once, read many) file capability and settable retention policies. Sun was quick to point out that it has more to come on this front. "The Compliance Archiving Software doesn't make a compliance solution," said Chris Wood, chief technologist of the storage and data management group at Sun.

He said the company is working on a "big brother" to the 5310 called the StorEdge Content Infrastructure System (CIS), referred to internally as the "Midnight Special", which will include Sun's SAM-FS data management software and scalable QFS file system. "This will be an object-based storage system that smells like Centera, only it'll be far better," Woods said. Centera suffers from throughput problems as it's limited to two processors, whereas the Sun system, when it finally ships in mid-2005, will be more scalable, according to Woods. "Each capacity module will come with fire power," he said.

EMC argues that archival data doesn't require the same throughput capabilities as its high-end storage, as by design, the data residing on the system is archived and therefore doesn't need to be accessed frequently, or in any great urgency.

Not true, according to Woods. "E-mail is computationally very intensive and needs a lot of horsepower." When Sun eventually ships its product, we will see if this argument merits any weight.

Separately, Sun announced ESM (Enterprise Storage Manager) 3.0, an SMI-S compliant product it OEMs from AppIQ Inc., that provides SRM, path management, performance management and device discovery. It also unveiled the 5310, Procom-based NAS appliance that offers twice the performance of the 5210 (20,000 IOPs) and 10 times the capacity (65 TB) in any mix of Fibre Channel or SATA disks. The 5310 will ship the first week of December. Pricing has not been set.

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