WORM-Based App Strengthens Regulatory Compliance, Data Security

 
 
By Karen Schwartz  |  Posted 2004-09-22
 
 
 
Until fairly recently, IT managers who needed WORM (write once/read many)-based data storage technology turned to traditional CD-ROM jukebox libraries, WORM tape, microfiche or even paper. But as storage vendors have begun introducing more advanced network storage infrastructure software, the options have increased exponentially.

FalconStor Software Inc. has just thrown its hat in the ring with the introduction the IPStor WORMLock Option for NAS, software that facilitates archiving and retrieval of files based on the WORM methodology, according to the Melville, N.Y., company.

The software allows organizations to use third-party disk arrays to emulate the behavior of traditional WORM media. Once a WORMLock volume has been configured, an administrator or application can set a data retention period for each file in the archive. The software also attaches a hidden digital signature to uniquely identify each file and verify the integrity of archived files at periodic intervals and as each file is accessed. The goal, according to Brian Garrett, technical director of the lab at Enterprise Strategy Group of Milford, Mass., who tested the product, is to protect the files from being changed for a specified period of time.

Although the software can be used for a variety of storage-related tasks, including ensuring interoperability, optimizing performance and enhancing security, the most popular use surely will be helping organizations comply with the growing list of regulatory compliance guidelines, Garrett said.

Most industries must follow some type of data retention regulations. The financial services industry, for example, must comply with a host of regulations including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act of 2999 and the Basel II Accord, while the health care industry must comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). These regulations require that institutions retain various types of documents for anywhere between two and six years, depending on the type of document.

Those requirements have forced organizations to find ways to store documents efficiently and cost-effectively—something products like the IPStor WORMLock Option for NAS can help address, Garrett said.

The new product also helps strengthen data protection by offering file-based remote replication of data on physical direct-attached storage; real-time, block-based mirroring of data on physical direct-attached storage; constant availability of data in Fibre Channel-attached storage devices; and real-time virus scanning. The product also includes a Capacity-on-Demand option, which allows the user to define policies and automatically migrate files based on user-defined criteria. For example, Capacity-on-Demand running on an application server with internal storage could be used to automatically migrate files older than six months to near-line affordable SATA drives or a WORM device.

FalconStors IPStor WORMLock Option for NAS competes with a handful of products, including SnapLock from Network Appliance Inc. and EMCs Centera. WORMLock is similar to SnapLock in terms of features and functionality, but WORMLock can be deployed on existing storage hardware from multiple vendors, while SnapLock works only with hardware from Network Appliance, Garrett explained.

For an eWEEK Labs look at SnapLock, click here.

Similarly, Centera solves many of the same problems as WORMLock, but applications must be modified to write to the Centera API, while applications using WORMLock and SnapLock need little or no modification. In addition, Centera optionally supports coalescence (also called de-duplication or commonality factoring). That means that when copies of an object already in a Centera archive are stored, only the first copy is retained in the archive, while subsequent copies are represented by records with a pointer to the single instance object.

Other startups working on Centera-like offerings include Archivas Inc. of Waltham, Mass., and Permabit of Cambridge, Mass.

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