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IBM releases compliance warehouse for unstructured content

IBM claims its new compliance warehouse makes managing unstructured data to meet regulatory requirements a snap.

IBM has released a new warehouse appliance designed to manage and retrieve unstructured content to meet regulatory and other compliance requirements.

The IBM Compliance Warehouse for Legal Control captures and stores relevant emails, documents and other unstructured content, as well as structured data, and allows managers to apply basic handling policies, such as who can access, delete or change the content, the company said. Cognos-based dashboards are then used to retrieve and display the content for legal and operational analysis, much like a traditional business intelligence system.

IBM said the compliance warehouse features software that classifies and aggregates content from multiple data sources and an "information vault" for storing compliance-related content. In addition to technology from Cognos, which IBM acquired in February, the compliance warehouse also draws upon other IBM-based technologies, including IBM FileNet Records Manager and IBM Classification Module, and is compatible with non-IBM applications and data sources, the company said.

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"Think of it as a data warehouse that also has all of the necessary legal controls and protection to ensure that your information is not only available for analysis but available for other legal reasons," said Craig Reinhardt, director of product and strategy, compliance and discovery, for IBM Enterprise Content Management.

Companies have been under heavy pressure in recent years to comply with a slew of regulations related to data management from law enforcement and regulatory bodies. They also face pressure to comply with customer requests and industry best practices. Many manufacturing companies commit to complying with ISO quality standards, for example, and the IBM compliance warehouse enables them to do so, Reinhardt said.

Craig Le Claire, a senior analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, said the IBM compliance warehouse is the first product to pull together various compliance-related tools -- such as email archiving, e-discovery and records-management software -- into one comprehensive platform. It does a good job of retrieving and storing unstructured content from siloed sources, he said, allowing companies to control the complete content lifecycle for legal compliance purposes.

The new compliance warehouse is not enough by itself for companies to meet specific legal and regulatory requirements, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Le Claire warned.

"It's a bit of a stretch to say that the compliance warehouse provides all of the risk management tools that are needed to support a given set of regulations," he said. "For example, in the Sarbanes-Oxley area, this platform doesn't have the COSO [Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission] risk management view into the material systems that has to happen."

Companies need additional governance and risk software to sit on top of the IBM compliance warehouse that apply specific compliance requirements to unstructured data, Le Claire said. He identified Jersey City, N.J.-based Qumas, Cleveland-based Axentis and New York-based BWise as three governance, risk and compliance software vendors worth considering.

Still, gaining control of disparate, unstructured content is the first step in achieving regulatory compliance, and the IBM compliance warehouse allows companies to do just that, Le Claire said, eliminating the need for various point solutions dedicated to just one slice of the compliance pie.

"IBM, because of its breadth of products in content management, has a unique capability to really pull this [compliance platform] together," Le Claire said.

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