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HP takes new stab at e-discovery market with Integrated Archive Platform

HP overhauls its RISS data archiving system for e-discovery and compliance market, renaming it Integrated Archive Platform.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) is taking another shot at archiving by revamping its Reference Information Storage System (RISS), which HP execs admit was not up to snuff.

So HP fixed some bugs in the RISS product, beefed up its search and index capabilities, made it more modular and slashed its price. The goal is to make the product, which now has a new name --- Integrated Archive Platform (IAP) -- a better fit for e-discovery and compliance applications.

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The RISS system was based on archiving software that HP picked up when it acquired Persist Technologies in November, 2003. "There were some issues with QA in the previous version, where there were some bugs that weren't captured," said Jonathan Martin, chief marketing officer for the information management division within HP's software group. He declined to give an example of the kind of bug that wasn't caught in RISS, but noted, "We have worked diligently to get the issues resolved and there is a crisper focus on where and how the product should be used."

How much boost will Integrated Archive Platform give HP?

Even if HP hits its mark with its improved Integrated Archive Platform, the time lost with a subpar archiving system puts it behind its rivals in the rapidly growing data archiving, e-discovery and compliance market. Most observers put EMC Corp.'s Centera as the market leader. Hitachi Data Systems bolstered its Hitachi Content Archiving Platform with technology acquired from its purchase of Archivas in February. IBM strengthened its archiving platform through an OEM deal with software startup Bycast Inc. Other storage vendors with archiving products include Network Appliance Inc., Nexsan Technologies Inc. and startup Caringo Inc.

According to Illuminata analyst John Webster, the root problem with RISS was the lack of focus alluded to by Martin. "It was never clear to me what they wanted to do with it and where it was supposed to fit in the overall storage architecture," he said. "First it was positioned as grid storage, then as supporting [regulatory] compliance, then for archival storage, as a secondary storage tier. . . ."

Now, Martin said, the focus of the rebuilt IAP is on archiving for e-discovery and compliance, an area that has received much attention since December, when updates to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure changed e-discovery regulations.

Martin said that the IAP resolves another issue with RISS: pricing. Previously the starting list price for RISS was $420,000. HP required users to repurchase software licenses for each data storage "block" that made up the hardware grid, and to purchase fully populated systems. But now an unpopulated rack with a single 1.4 TB grid cell can be purchased at a starting price of $71,000.

"Previously, customers had to purchase software licenses over and over and over again," Martin said. "We have completely retooled that pricing structure and also benefit from decreased costs for hardware components over time." Each individual 1.4 TB cell can now be added to the system for a list price of $8,000.

HP also updated the product's search and indexing features. Before, users could only search within each frame of the total RISS system, which in large environments might be expanded to as many as half a dozen individual chassis. IAP will let users search across the entire system regardless of the number of chassis installed. In addtion, the software's multithreading capabilities have been enhanced so that the product will no longer "hit the wall," performance-wise, at high capacities, according to Martin.

HP is looking to add partners around content management products, and with this release of IAP it has addded support for 30 content management tools, including Vignette and OpenText. "We understand that these partners are having to do different integration with us and other archiving partners like EMC," Martin said. "We are looking into supporting open standards in order to make that integration easier."

HP hopes the IAP's new modular approach and lowered price point will help it move the revamped product downmarket. Webster isn't sure that strategy will work. "It depends on what your environment is like," he said. "Users should make sure they have enough litigation requests and capacity under management to justify the purchase of specialized hardware for these purposes."

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