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EMC partnership focuses on e-mail archiving, SEC rules

Kevin Komiega

Send an e-mail, receive an e-mail. It's one of the simplest concepts in IT, but there's a painfully tedious underbelly to the world of e-mail and it's called archiving -- and SEC compliance.

The industry has responded to recent crackdowns by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on e-mail archiving compliance, the latest effort has stemmed from an alliance between EMC Corp., Hopkinton, Mass., Iron Mountain Inc., Boston, Mass., and KVS Inc., Arlington, Texas. The companies have combined their efforts, and storage products, to offer a new way to archive electronic documents.

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97, the SEC revised its thinking on preserving records of written communications between exchange members, brokers and dealers to include electronic communications like instant messages and e-mails. The result: the financial industry needs to save everything for "no less than six years."

With EMC's Centera content addressed storage system, customers will receive e-mail mailbox management and compliance supervision from KVS, long-term e-mail archiving, indexing and Designated Third Party Services from Iron Mountain and long-term, compliant online storage media from EMC.

At the core of the service, which is offered as both in-house and outsourced deployments, is Centera content authenticity features, a disk-based WORM (write once, read many) storage medium with " self-healing" capabilities.

EMC said the heightened scrutiny around retention and retrieval of electronic documents has boosted sales of Centera, which sold more than one petabyte of capacity in the fourth quarter of 2002.

EMC's vice president of marketing and alliances for content addressed storage Roy Sanford said each of the companies has been selling these products and services into the market individually to the same customers.

"These are not new components, but we've done the technical integration work," said Sanford. He added that the technology alliance made sense since all three companies had joint customers.

In December, the SEC lowered the boom on five brokerage houses for violating e-mail record-keeping requirements. The firms, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Goldman, Sachs & Co., Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc., Salomon Smith Barney Inc., and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Inc., were fined a combined $8.25 million.

With that type of penalty dangling overhead some experts suggest it might be time for the IT world to take e-mail archiving a bit more seriously.

Peter Gerr, senior research analyst, Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., said IT professionals need to be educated on complying with increasingly stringent e-mail regulations, specifically SEC 17a-4.

"This EMC, KVS, and Iron Mountain solution, together, meets the requirements specifically for e-mail retention and protection," said Gerr.

He said the way the SEC regulations are, an end user needs to ensure that they are compliant with the regulations, and that if the SEC audits them, that they can recover and produce the necessary emails, documents, etc as soon as possible. The risks of non-compliance to the end user go beyond the potentially steep fines, loss of customer faith, shareholder confidence.

Gerr said the Enterprise Storage Group expects compliance with the SEC's e-mail retention regulations will be one of the most important issues for businesses in 2003 and 2004.

"I think you should expect other vendors to follow suit. Exchange is a huge opportunity, and specifically within the financial services industry, the compliance regulations around email will require [businesses] to reconsider their current solutions, and ensure that they meet the regulations today, and maintain compliant IT infrastructures in the future," said Gerr.

"Most of these financial services companies are looking for a way to cut costs," said Margaret Rimmler, vice president of marketing for Iron Mountain. "A good percentage of customers will outsource."

Rimmler said customer adoption would most likely follow traditional "in-source" versus outsource trends, but the target market of financial companies might be predisposed toward outsourcing. Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer

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