Data archiving software offers compliance, management solutions

Hewlett-Packard puts database archiving in the hands of the business, courtesy of a visual design tool that can model apps and apply business rules. Improved XML makes it look like archived apps are at the ready.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) introduced today an improved version of its HP Database Archiving software that promises to put data archiving in the hands of the people who best know the applications -- business users.

The new version of the database archiving software comes equipped with a visual design tool that HP says will allow business people to quickly model their core business applications, such as purchase or sales orders, and put in the business rules upfront that govern the data as it moves from active to closed state.

The emphasis in data archiving has focused on performance, said Kevin O'Malley, product marketing manager for database archiving at HP. The IT department provides the underlying infrastructure to house a company's data, and when the volume of data causes performance problems, it falls to IT to figure out how best to park the data to improve operations. The HP software "marries the infrastructure and business."

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"We think this will change the game. Customers can do archived deployment far more readily and align the business and the IT objectives of managing the data," O'Malley said.

Carl Olofson, research vice president at IDC in Framingham, Mass., said he believes database archiving will be more broadly adopted going forward and become a "core element" of the database management portfolio, given the explosion in data and data requirements.

"The combination of regulatory compliance requirements and internal information governance requirements will drive organizations to retain data longer," Olofson said. "Rather than retain it in the main database, with all the attendant issues that come from more complex database indexes and expensive storage, it makes sense for rarely accessed data to be put into some type of secondary storage."

The HP archiving software is touted as a compliance tool. O'Malley said that about 80% to 90% of the data that accumulates in database systems is needed for reporting purposes rather than transactional purposes. If companies can do a better job of segregating the data rather than letting it just accumulate, archiving is no longer a knee-jerk reaction to poor performance, but policy driven.

The company says HP Database Archiving allows customers to meet compliance and e-discovery requirements by using open standards such as XML archiving for long-term data retention. For compliance and other reasons, it is important that data retains its business context as it ages. O'Malley said business users have been loath to move the data out from under the application for fear of losing this context and putting their companies at risk because the data is no longer in a centralized database.

"We made big improvements in XML archiving and the ability to get at the data. So, the data is removed from the database and in an XML document but from an end-user point of view, they still see it as in a database and as preserving that business context," O'Malley said.

This helps customers lower their information management costs by storing the data independent of the application and database while retaining its business context for long-term storage and compliance, the company said. Organizations can leverage investments in existing enterprise reporting tools from business intelligence vendors for e-discovery reporting, while synchronizing with the archiving and retention product HP Integrated Archive Platform.

Olofson agrees the archiving approach means companies can put the data in a place where the database management system doesn't need to manage it anymore, and at the same time allow the data to retain all the characteristics of the schema. Using file-based or disk-based archiving doesn't really do the job as well, he said, because recovering the particular data needed would require recovering the entire database. "With an archiving solution, you can selectively cull out the data from five or six years past and they system can read it," he said.

Lois Hughes, senior manager, business applications systems at Tektronix Inc., a Beaverton, Ore.-based supplier of sophisticated measuring and monitoring equipment, has used HP archiving software for more than a decade. She said she's "really, really excited" about the new version. "The XML archiving capabilities will enable us to decommission some of our older applications."

Hughes went looking for an archiving system years ago, after moving from 486 global legacy instances to one instance of Oracle. She needed a system to help rationalize the various statutory requirements of Tektronix's many subsidiaries, which range from the U.S. requirement to keep documents for a maximum of seven years to 15 years for the company's China operations. "I didn't want to have to maintain all transactions for 15 years, just because I needed them for 15 years for China."

A user is not screaming, 'We need archiving, we need archiving.' They're saying, 'Give me all
my data, give me all my data.'

Lois Hughes
senior manager, business applications systemsTektronix Inc.
The archiving system has been a boon to performance for live archives, she said, driving a 48% improvement in performance for accounts receivables and 36% improvement in order manageables. Hughes said she expects the new version will save her lots of dough.

"It is just going to be absolutely phenomenal. Up to this point, every time we do an upgrade, I had to have a full-time developer in place for archive support. With this, our users can manage most of them, with only DBA support," Hughes said.

The biggest boon, she said, is that this software changes the paradigm for archiving. "A user is not screaming, 'We need archiving, we need archiving.' They're saying, 'Give me all my data, give me all my data,'" she said.

The software handles the technical coding, so companies save money on developers. On the flip side, it is imperative that the business users really understand the application, as it moves from state to state, Hughes agreed.

"You must know how long you have to save these documents," and write the rules accordingly. She takes a hard line. When a user from Canada comes to her and wants to save data for 10 years, even though the statutory rule is seven years, "I just tell them, I am sorry, you can have seven years -- and then point them to legal department and work with them to update that document accordingly."

Other enhancements in the new version: The HP software also extends database coverage to include Microsoft SQL Server and provides new capabilities for Oracle, according to the company. In order to address the needs of more than 75% of the open database systems market, HP Database Archiving now supports SQL Server 2005 and provides extended capabilities for Oracle databases. Oracle customers using partitioning as part of their information management strategies can now use HP Database Archiving to archive complete sets of data spanning both partitioned and nonpartitioned, according to the press release.

Independent software vendors and system integrators can use HP Database Archiving software, including HP Designer and a developer's kit, to quickly build and support integrations with third-party and custom applications.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer

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