2005: The Year We Hog-Tie Data

Opinion: Companies are going to get scared into buying something-anything-to help them get a handle on information management in the coming year. For 2005 is the year we're going to slap data into shape, figure out what's really important

One good bet for a 2005 prediction: Companies are going to get scared into buying something—anything—to help them get a handle on information management.

We can thank the fruition of an alphabets soup worth of regulations for that: HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Basel II.

Do those sound like old hat? Yesterdays news? The fact of the matter is that organizations are still struggling to reach compliance by getting their data reporting, storage, tracking and auditing processes under control.

For example, as eWEEK.com Bio and Healthcare IT Editor Stacy Lawrence reported back in May, IT consultancies at that time found that nearly all relevant parties in the health care system were still working to become HIPAA-compliant—and thats a full eight years after the legislation was signed into law.

The pattern repeats. eWEEK Senior Writer Dennis Callaghan found that as the June deadline for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance neared, U.S. companies were scurrying for compliance, finding it both more costly and more laborious than they originally anticipated.

Whereas Forrester Research just released dour estimates for IT spending in 2005—it found that SMBs expect to spend 4.8 percent on IT, lower than the 6.6 percent Forrester previously forecasted—the analyst firm also found that 61 percent of SMBs are planning to deploy or upgrade major application software packages and that they place a notable importance on doing so.

Mark Warzecha, an analyst for Meta Group, predicted that well see that money come trickling into software licensing expenditures during the second half of 2005, once organizations have a handle on what theyre doing in terms of organizational risks vis-à-vis regulatory compliance.

Thats why were seeing companies like EMC, IBM and Oracle diving into the area of dealing with information from an archiving perspective.

Their histories reveal their plans: EMC, for one, is on a frantic buying spree. Over the past 18 months, it picked up backup provider Legato, content-management provider Documentum and processor virtualization vendor VMware, and just before Christmas it revealed that it will grab the network systems management player System management ARTS.

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Put those all together, and you come up with a company thats going to be well-positioned to vie with IBM and Oracle in the realm of document lifecycle management. IBM and Oracle, meanwhile, are both pursuing what theyre describing as Google-like enterprise search technologies that feature a wealth of BI, what with Oracles dashboard-endowed Files 10g and IBMs recently disclosed work on the next generation of the DB2 database.

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