IBM Tool Eases Compliance

An IBM tool helps non-IT experts manage record-retention policies.

As regulatory compliance pressures extend beyond the realm of the database administrator, IBM is taking steps to empower non-IT experts to properly define data administration and management policies related to record retention.

Toward that goal, IBM last week unveiled its autonomic Policy Based Data Management tool on the IBM AlphaWorks Web site.

The tool is designed to assist those not well-versed in database management to define complex policies that are automatically executed based on the definitions, said Mukesh Mohania, research staff member for IBM India Research Lab, which is based at the India Institute of Technology, in New Delhi.

The Policy Based Data Management tool features two user interfaces: one for business object definition and the other for policy definition. The technology will automatically detect conflicts between policies while defining them from a desktop, regardless of who is at the controls. The tool automatically ensures accurate execution of a business policy response to situations such as database, transactional and external events.

IBM officials said the tool runs on DB2 and can support any relational database with a simple modification. Future development will allow the product to be offered as a tool kit and focus on protecting data privacy.

Experts say that the demands of regulatory compliance measures such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act are forcing companies to beef up records retention practices.

For Sarbanes-Oxley in particular, much work still needs to be done in terms of data management, according to a survey released last week from Philadelphia-based The Hackett Group, which found nearly half of the 22 company survey respondents ignored IT in their compliance efforts.

One user, Shigeru Nara, senior vice president and executive general manager of the Network Operations Unit at NEC System Integration & Construction Ltd., in Tokyo, said the laborious task of ensuring the accuracy of financial databases cannot be underestimated. "In the past, [our company] was manually verifying financial data for [the] month and quarter," said Nara. "The manual process was time-consuming and insufficient."