Records management company Iron Mountain has partnered with major instant messaging solution providers and expanded its offerings to include instant messaging archiving and retention solutions, tools that will help companies comply with new federal regulations on the storage of electronic records.
To help organizations in all industries comply with a recent wave of regulations, such as those detailed by Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 17a-4 and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Iron Mountain and its partners will offer tools and services that allow businesses to capture, manage and secure instant messaging communications. Iron Mountain's partners include Akonix Systems, Communicator Inc., FaceTime Communications Inc. and IMlogic Inc.
The partnership is part of an industrywide trend, in which storage companies are partnering with ISVs, especially instant messaging providers, in order to meet market demands and garner market share, said Sara Radicati, president and CEO of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Radicati Group Inc.
Boston-based Iron Mountain recently partnered with EMC Corp. and e-mail archiving company KVS to provide long-term e-mail archiving and indexing services.
Traditionally, electronics document archiving has focused on e-mail retention, said Margaret Rimmler, vice president of marketing, enterprise solutions and services for Iron Mountain. But some businesses are beginning to recognize the importance of managing and archiving instant messaging communications as well.
Leading this trend is the highly regulated financial services industry, where the use of instant messaging has been acknowledged as falling under the umbrella of "electronic communications," all of which are subject to the archiving and reporting requirements specified by the SEC Rule 17a-4.
The numbers of companies actually archiving instant messaging is very small, but the market is about to see a huge demand for tools and services that enable the storage of instant messaging.
"We're beginning to see a groundswell of demand," said Christopher Dean, senior vice president of marketing and business development for FaceTime.
"Everyone saves storage. The demand in the financial sector is what's driving it, but now there's this broad, horizontal need."
Dean said that the storage of instant messages is becoming prominent in a number of other industries as well, including health care and entertainment, for legal reasons.
"Just about every company that's worried about liability is looking at these products," said Patrick Gordon, a consultant at Compliant Systems Consulting, LLC, in Medfield, Mass. "It's becoming more and more evident in the industries covered by HIPAA and heavily regulated industries that instant messaging is considered an electronic document. Archiving instant messaging is gaining interest very rapidly. It's prudent to implement these kinds of products … if they're going to allow them to be used at all."
Iron Mountain's solution, developed in partnership with Akonix, Communicator, FaceTime and IMlogic, formulates and translates instant message communications into an electronic record, such as an e-mail document, that can be retained in a searchable index database and retrieved through an Iron Mountain Web interface.
Customers can choose to combine Iron Mountain's Digital Archives and Third Party Downloader services with instant messaging management solutions such as Akonix's Akonix L7 Enterprise, Communicator Inc.'s Hub IM, FaceTime Communication's IM Auditor Enterprise, and IMlogic's IM Manager.
The industry has realized that the storage-retention issues are a unique challenge in that they crosses business and IT lines, said Peter Gerr, research analyst with Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group, a leading independent storage analyst firm.
"These partnerships show that some of the more savvy and aware of the vendors are really starting to tune into that message," he said. In order to address it, they have to involve a broader contingency -- including vendors that have deep knowledge of the applications.
"Applications are really driving these partnerships forward," he said. "They think about the actual storage further downstream, because the apps are the entry point, and it's important for storage vendors to partner with ISVs."
Through a partnership like the one forged between Iron Mountain and these ISVs, Gerr said, users are getting good solutions. "They should have a higher level of comfort knowing that vendors are working hard to help them meet the needs," he said.
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