EMC links document and storage management

EMC's Documentum division has unveiled its first product that ties document management into storage management through policies...

EMC's Documentum division has unveiled its first product that ties document management into storage management through policies designed to migrate data on different tiers of storage based on its age and value.

EMC said the software, called Document Content Storage Services, runs with Documentum's Document Content Server and provides a link between enterprise content management and storage management through a policy engine.

The policy engine determines what unstructured content gets stored to primary, secondary or archival storage and when that is supposed to occur.

EMC said the product can also move data throughout heterogeneous environments, including storage subsystems sold by EMC's largest competitors such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems and Network Appliance.

Document Content Storage Services works by providing a framework under which documents are classified for storage when they are created, and that classification is then modified throughout their life cycle.

For example, while an insurance contract or product invoice is being processed, it would remain on high-speed arrays. But once a service manager approves the contract, or the invoice is processed, it would automatically be migrated to lower-cost disc storage and eventually tape archival storage, said Neville Letzerich, director of product marketing at EMC.

Wayne Aiello, vice-president of e-business services at office products supplier Corporate Express, said his company will most likely roll out Document Content Storage Services next year. He hoped it will save money by allowing him to migrate some of his 25 million product-order invoice documents to lower-end storage - freeing up more primary storage for transactional data.

Corporate Express took in about $1.5bn (£815m) of its $4.4bn in North American sales revenue last year through its product website. The company is just beginning to use Documentum to archive web content.

"Depending on the age of the document, it's very important for us to understand how to store it. Obviously, we don't want to store all 25 million invoices on high-end storage. It's not cost-effective for us," he said.

Aiello also believed the software will help his company and its customers comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

"Customers are asking us because of [Sarbanes-Oxley] to maintain their order history: who ordered it, who approved it, when it was approved, and to keep the notes put on it," he said. "It's a financial record for them. They're using our system to help manage their cost."

While the rollout of the new software will be easy, defining the storage policies needed to automate the life-cycle management of unstructured content will be an arduous task, Aiello said.

But he said he would rather set up those policies on software than build "a lot of scripts on the hardware side".

While it will be difficult to set up policies to store newly created documents through the life-cycle management software, it will be a nearly impossible task to do the same for legacy data, according to Bill North, director of storage software research at IDC.

"This is great for companies using Documentum, but it doesn't do anything for the larger population out there that doesn't make use of Documentum's architecture and framework," North said.

EMC said it did not have pricing available for Document Content Storage Services, but its Content Server starts at around $50,000.

Lucas Mearian writes for Computerworld

Read more on IT strategy