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Easy Archiving

IBM has myriad solutions to make archiving and retention easier than expected

Illustration by Peter Hoey

Due to increasing regulatory pressures and other business considerations, more and more organizations are being pushed to archive and retain specific documents. Unfortunately, many of them do so using typical backup procedures, thinking that this is as good as any method to make sure they maintain important business content.

But dedicated archiving and retention solutions are much more effective, allowing users to keep only those documents and other information that specifically pertain to whatever regulations or business-specific requirements to which they must adhere. Rather than doing wholesale backups, organizations can cherry pick and store only what they need.

Not only does this method help ensure that companies are in compliance with regulations and other business-driven reasons for archiving and retention, but it also helps in other ways, including improving system performance, with those need-to-keep documents now being offloaded to low-cost disk and/or tape.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but some organizations aren’t sure how to best meet their archiving and retention needs, including how long they should keep the documents or whether the documents could be kept secure enough to meet the toughest mandates. Now, however, thanks to some hardware and software solutions, those needs can be easily met, helping organizations automatically retain those key documents, apply whatever measures they need to meet regulatory compliance, and track the data throughout its lifespan.

A Huge Blow

Businesses need to keep documents and records handy in order to conduct business. But there are reasons why some organizations should “retain” specific documents. “Some do it to comply with industry or government regulatory mandates, others because of risk of litigation and yet others because they want to maintain and be able to refer back to critical documents for future product or business development reasons,” remarks Funda Eceral, archive solutions marketing manager, IBM System Storage*.

In some cases, organizations using archiving and retention technologies to meet regulatory mandates also use that information to support their legal departments. If a company gets sued, the company might have to provide certain legally binding documents. Not having them could result in the loss of a suit or other legal action taken against a company or even company officers.

“In the financial sector, the SEC demands that broker-dealers retain account-record information for six years. The six-year period begins either at the time the account is closed or when the information is replaced or updated,” Eceral says. “This includes even e-mail correspondences. If a company gets audited and can’t produce those documents, they can be penalized for it. Usually, though, compliance officers are well-versed in the regulations and retention requirements particular to any given industry.”

Another reason for some archiving activity is industry-specific data-retention requirements. For example, insurance companies have to keep signed, binding documents for some time, depending on the type of insurance that’s being offered. In the case of life-insurance policies, customer-signed documents have to be kept at least until they’re paid out and then for several years afterward.

In other cases, organizations may want to keep documents for reference. Auto manufacturers or aeronautical companies, for instance, often keep old blueprints and designs that might be useful for future product development and competitiveness. If the data isn’t retained, it may well be lost to the ages, never to be seenÑor used again. “This can be a huge blow to continued development efforts,” Eceral says.

The medical industry is another example of how important archiving and retention are. Documents such as MRIs and X-rays should be kept for a specified period of time. This allows medical professionals to easily access files as needed, especially if they’re stored on a network-capable archiving and retention system, letting them share information with other medical service providers. National libraries worldwide are trying to preserve any and every document possible as they pertain to country’s national heritage.

“As a leader in storage and enterprise-content management, IBM can help [companies] along the way so that they can manage their information growth, improve productivity and gain operational efficiencies.” -Funda Eceral, archive solutions marketing manager, IBM System Storage

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at

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