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HP buys records management partner

HP announced last night that it has bought its enterprise content management (ECM) partner, Tower Software, Australia-based makers of TRIM Context 6. TRIM is already sold with HP’s Information Access Platform (IAP–formerly RISS). Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Tower’s software is tangential to digital data storage–it deals in paper records management and also offers workflow management similar to Documentum (though Documentum is a broader product), which doesn’t get much coverage on

But HP is also framing the acquisition as an e-discovery play, according to Robin Purohit, vice president and general manager of information management for HP software. “The proposed deal will [give] HP software the broadest e-discovery capabilities and help manage the capture, collection and preservation of electronic records for government and highly regulated industries,” Purohit said.

Tower also has a good reputation when it comes to managing SharePoint, which Purohit predicted will be the next concern to hit the e-discovery market. “[The acquisition] allows HP software to address the next wave of e-discovery and compliance challenges posed by the explosion in business content stored in Microsoft SharePoint portals,” he said.

ESG analyst Brian Babineau said he agreed with that assessment, and said Tower’s work with Microsoft to integrate with SharePoint has been deeper than most. “Tower has been focused on integrating its application with other applications, from the desktop to the application server, and they’ve done a lot of work with Microsoft,” he said. An example of the integration Tower offers is the ability to mark files as TRIM records within the application, including Word and SharePoint documents.

“Everyone’s going to say they can archive SharePoint,” Babineau acknowledged. But “it’s a matter of how close you are with Microsoft.”

Tower’s going to have to get closer to HP, too, in Babineau’s estimation. Right now TRIM can draw from IAP as a content repository, but Babineau said he’d like to see TRIM and IAP work together to sort out data that’s being treated as a business record from data that’s being archived for storage management purposes, and to enforce policies on business records in tandem.

Learning this market space will also be a challenge for HP, Babineau predicted. “They need to understand the dynamics of records management and how to connect it to their software group,” he said. “They also need to figure out how to sell the technology.

“It’s not something they can’t handle, but it’s something they’ll have to learn,” he added. “As long as they can retain [Tower] people and figure out how to sell it, it’ll work.”

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