EMC offers Centera for financial services

EMC announced an upgraded version of its content-addressed storage server, Centera, which is aimed at financial services firms...

EMC announced an upgraded version of its content-addressed storage server, Centera, which is aimed at financial services firms struggling with regulatory compliance issues.

EMC's Compliance Edition of Centera is pricier than the previous model - about $10 (£6.91) more per gigabyte of capacity - but has improved software and hardware that allows IT administrators to set up strict retention and deletion rules for e-mail and documents, as well as added security with regard to access. 

The server also uses Simple Network Management Protocol to remotely notify systems administrators of problems within the array. 

At its most basic level, Centera incorporates inexpensive Advanced Technology Attachment drives to keep the price lower than high-end storage products, but uses software that creates a unique 27-character identifier for each document or image stored in the system. A file with an identifier is created each time the data is changed, so the data cannot be overwritten. 

Roy Sanford, vice-president of Content Addressed Storage at EMC, said the Compliance Edition of Centera is between 15% and 20% more expensive than previous models. The list price for an entry-level Centera system with 4TByte of usable storage is $148,000 (£95,261). 

The Compliance Edition of Centera keeps metadata about objects it is storing and uses that data to determine if requests to delete information should be honored. For example, if a request came in to delete an e-mail, Centera would first calculate whether the e-mail had reached the end of its regulated lifecycle. 

The array also uses a scanning algorithm to ensure that documents are deleted, proof of which is required by the US Securities and Exchange Commission's. 

Brad Nisbet, an analyst at IDC, said financial regulations covering electronic records retention and laws that require chief executive officers to sign off financial reports, is driving adoption of storage systems like Centera. 

"The most significant change EMC made to Centera seems to me to be the fact that you can set the retention period," Nisbet said. 

The latest model also allows administrators to set policies for e-mail and document retention at the object level, meaning an administrator can request that one set of e-mail be stored three years and another for longer or shorter periods. 

EMC is using the latest 250GByte IDE drives rather than the 160GByte IDE drives on previous models, for up to 32TByte of raw capacity. 

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