EMC Launches Enterprise DRM Tools

In giving companies the ability to establish stricter rules around the handling and sharing of electronic documents, EMC hopes to make eDRM a central piece of its content management strategy.

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Storage giant EMC is jumping into the market for enterprise digital rights management software by introducing a pair of products that promise to place data security more squarely at the center of its information lifecycle management vision.

Utilizing technology gained via the companys March 2006 acquisition of Authentica, EMC launched Documentum Information Rights Management—or IRM—Services and Documentum Records Manager 5.3 on Aug. 7, a pair of offerings that will be sold alongside its ECM (enterprise content management) and records management software with the aim of helping companies get a better handle on the manner in which they organize, share and store data.

As with other eDRM technologies, the software is meant to help companies specifically address the process of protecting their information once it has been taken out of a repository, or when they seek to destroy records held for regulatory compliance purposes. By establishing stronger parameters for users abilities to forward, print or otherwise manipulate data for themselves, the storage vendor maintains it can help companies significantly improve protection of sensitive information.

As with similar eDRM technologies, such as Adobes Acrobat 3D platform, introduced earlier this year, the products pledge to help companies better protect sensitive data in business transactions when they are forced to share information with outsiders including partners or customers. By integrating the tools with its existing storage and records management products, EMC is hoping to become an end-to-end provider of document life-cycle technologies.

A typical scenario driving demand for such technologies from a range of industries, EMC executives said, is when a manufacturing company must distribute product design plans to multiple contractors during the fabrication bidding process. By establishing more rigid controls over what partners or potential vendors can do with such data once they have received it, the software maker claims it can help companies cut down on information leakage and potential counterfeiting.

"Weve always been able to provide robust security for content in a repository, but the challenge has been to help companies retain control of their information outside the system, when communicating with others outside their organization or even in another business unit," said Lubor Ptacek, director of content management marketing at Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC. "Unified with our Documentum storage platform and rebuilt around service-oriented architecture, the Authentica technologies allow to us expose data to other applications in the enterprise to take advantage of record-filing capabilities, and help companies ease their way into more secure document management."

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In addition to helping companies protect information shared with outsiders, EMC officials say that the two products also help companies meet data retention-oriented regulatory requirements, including aiding companies with the disposal of records they no longer need to keep. It has been hard for customers to ensure that every copy of a specific record was deleted once its regulatory retention parameters were met, EMC officials said, and by using the tools, companies may now eradicate versions of records distributed across multiple systems or stored locally on users computers.

The Documentum IRM Services package specifically combines EMCs content management software with Authenticas eDRM technology to give companies the ability to restrict user access to documents; append digital watermarks to files; bar documents from being printed or forwarded without permission; or to revoke access to a file, even when the data has been sent outside an organizations own network.

EMC also introduced Documentum IRM Services for eRoom, which offers the same document management features specifically tailored for use within the companys online collaboration platform.

Documentum Records Manager 5.3 promises to aid in the management of everything from records creation to destruction, built around a SOA (service-oriented architecture), and including the ability to help with disposal of standard non-record documents, which EMC claims will help customers reduce costs associated with the accumulation of records over time.

Ptacek said that EMC already has several beta customers working with the integrated content management and eDRM applications.

Industry watchers labeled the launch as a relative no-brainer for EMC, as customers are increasingly looking for eDRM and other rights management technologies to be integrated with their content systems. Melissa Webster, an analyst with Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said that EMC is the first enterprise content management specialist to offer such a comprehensive set of eDRM tools, but she expects Microsoft and others to follow suit.

"The notion of keeping content tethered even when theres no connection, the long arm of policy server, is something that customers are looking for as they face the challenge of sharing more and more data electronically," said Webster. "Content management systems are turning into platforms for the delivery of a new generation of content applications, and you end up with a much more sophisticated set of capabilities when you combine document management and rights management with ECM tools."

While EMC faces no direct competition in the space so far, Webster pointed to Microsofts planned introduction of its SharePoint 2007 package, which is expected to arrive during the first quarter of next year. The analyst said that she expects Microsoft to tout many of the same advantages in integrating document management and eDRM functions into the next-generation collaboration software platform.

"This movement really goes beyond security or rights management in that EMC is hoping to enable customers to manage their complex relationships with partners, suppliers and other companies far more effectively," Webster said.

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