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Centera name game

EMC quietly announced the rebranding of its Centera Compliance Edition to Centera Governance Edition, to more accurately reflect trends in the market, it claims.

"The new name reflects a trend by businesses and organizations to impose their own internal standards and automated procedures to retain and dispose of electronic documents and fixed content," EMC said in a statement.

With all these different versions of Centera floating around, my advice to users is to read the small print very carefully to ensure you are getting the level of compliance you need.

Centera Governance Edition includes a feature called audited delete that can override set retention periods. This is useful for companies in Europe, that by law, must delete the records of an employee who leaves the company before their data would normally expire, EMC says. Centera Compliance Plus on the other hand, does not include this feature, meaning that there is strictly no way to delete or override a file.

Another thing users should pay close attention to with both these models is the support of MD5 and MD5 Plus algorithms.

EMC uses the MD5 algorithm to create a unique content address for each object stored on Centera. This works in conjunction with Centera's single-instance storage feature, which is meant to ensure that only one copy of any object is stored, to save space.

However, crypto experts have demonstrated vulnerabilities in MD5 that prove there is a way to crack the algorithm, leaving wide open the question of whether the data stored using MD5 and EMC's single-instance feature has been tampered with or not.

To get around this problem, EMC created a proprietary version of the algorithm called MD5 Plus, which also incorporates time and date stamps to the content address. Regular background checks run the algorithm across the object to make sure that it is the same as the original. More importantly, MD5 Plus gives users the option to increase the encryption strength to 128-bit or 256-bit and turn off the single-instance storage feature.

It's my hunch that Centera Governance Edition, the less stringent system if you will, will not be deployed in compliance environments subject to SEC 17 a-4 that states data must be stored in a nonrewritable, nonerasable form. And users who need absolute lockdown will buy Centera Compliance Plus.

Editor's note: Views expressed here are not necessarily those of

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