Storage vendors enter records fray

When a federal judge ruled 17 months ago that agencies had to start managing their electronic records, one of the first questions raised by information technology managers was how they would store millions of files. Now some storage system vendors think they have the answer.

At FOSE last week, two vendors of CD-Recordable jukeboxes, NSM Jukebox Inc. and JVC Professional Computer Products Division, debuted bundled systems for archiving e-mail according to the Defense Department's standards for electronic record keeping. Meanwhile, OTG Software, Bethesda, Md., unveiled a storage management application it developed with integrator Roy F. Weston Inc. that the Army Corps of Engineers is deploying to manage its engineering, construction and permit files.

These offerings join a product introduced last year by SMS Data Products, McLean, Va., called CD-Rkive, which also enables e-mail to be managed through storage on CD-R media. The product was not exhibited at FOSE, and the company declined to comment for this story.

To date, most vendors that have entered the electronic records management market make workflow and document management software used for routing, tracking and managing documents during their creation. But storage vendors see a need to continue managing these documents through the rest of their life cycle. "You can't talk to a single manager of information systems about creating a message retention system without talking about the way you're going to store it," said Chris Gray, vice president of XVault Inc., Amherst, N.H., which is supplying electronic records management software for the NSM Jukebox and JVC systems.

CD-R is a good solution, he added, because it is long-lasting, secure and easy to maintain online.

That signals a new market opportunity. Electronic record- keeping "is a big data generator," said Gregory Leonard, manager of systems engineering with OTG. "Just the numbers themselves make it very attractive to the main storage market."

"As a storage developer and hardware provider, we're always looking at applications for insight into where the requirement goes," said Richard Young, vice president with JVC. With a new application such as records management, "a company bundling a hardware and software solution is more appealing to the end user for comfort level."

Jeni Cantley, NSM's marketing manager, said that while her company waits for the Digital Video Disc market to take off, "we're looking for application solutions we can start putting our storage into." E-mail records management promises large volumes of material to store.

NSM is selling SecurMail, which consists of XVault's XVMail software and one of two jukeboxes, its 135-disc Satellite system or 620-disc Galaxy. Both boxes support traditional CD and next-generation DVD media.

JVC's offering, called E-mail Archiving Solution, includes XVMail together with jukebox configurations of 100 to 600 CD-ROM or CD-R discs.

XVMail, which is undergoing testing for compliance with the DOD 5015.2 electronic record- keeping standard, can be set up to automatically store and index e-mail and attachments. A module called the Record Keeping System Policy Module allows customers to define a file plan for filing e-mail records, routes messages to the right file through a keyword or filing code, executes records retention instructions and keeps an audit trail for each record.

In NSM's and JVC's systems, groups of discs can be partitioned so that related records are stored together. That way, Gray said, it is easy for users to cut off discs when they are full and dispose of records or transfer them to the National Archives and Records Administration at the right time.

XVMail currently works with Microsoft Exchange. A Lotus Notes version is being developed, Gray said.

The OTG system, called the Corps of Engineers Electronic Record Keeping Information System, integrates an Oracle database, an image server attached to a jukebox and OTG's DiskXtender and Application

Xtender storage management software. CEERIS does not currently manage e-mail, although OTG is working on an upgrade that will perform this task.

CEERIS generates record- keeping data for each document automatically when users create or scan in their documents. Richard August, manager of federal information management programs with Weston, said the next upgrade would include document management software, which provides access and version control as users work on their files.

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