How Can Companies Adhere to Compliance Laws?

by Julia Fernandes    Mar 11, 2005

The onset of globalization has triggered the need for Indian enterprises to comply with diverse regulations and policies. This in turn has fueled the need for a revamp of the IT infrastructure to address these issues of regulatory compliance.

Speaking exclusively to CXOtoday, Jon Murray, program manager - business continuance, EMC South Asia, delved on how deployment of ILM can enable companies to intelligently manage their information and successfully adhere to compliance issues and corporate governance policies.

Overview of Compliance Acts

According to Murray, today SEBI mandates that all Indian institutions should have a DR plan in place. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to convene a meeting of banks before this year-end to assess implications of implementing of the New Basel Capital Accord (Basel II) by December 2006.

“Basel-II implementation is likely to force banks to adhere to global standards and thus create a level playing field with common practice,” said Murray.

Continuing further he said, “Organizations in verticals such as healthcare, life sciences, BFSI, PSUs and the government have to follow different sets of standards. For example, in the healthcare industry data needs to be retained for 15 years, including the raw data generated from scientific instruments and analyzers.”

“Internationally, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act states that all business records, including electronic records and e-mail messages, must be saved for not less than five years. With most Indian companies doing business in global landscape they will be eventually moving their process to adhere to the SOX Act guidelines,” informed Murray.

Why deploying ILM assumes importance?

According to Murray, in the current business scenario, many organizations need to keep backups of critical data. Hence, storage has become an integral part of the process, not only for the business to function but also to help it grow in the future.

Murray believes that the existing storage infrastructure may not be structured to automatically move older information into backup and archival servers -critical information into disk-based backup, and less important information to relatively cheaper tapes.

This is where Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) can help. ILM strategies permit an organization to align the various classes of critical applications and data across the business to an appropriate level of access, availability, and protection.

ILM allows an organization to manage information in a manner that is based on its changing value to the business over time. It means that the organization can map the value of information and the resources to align it to the goals of the business-all at the right time

However, what is the business relevance of ILM?

Outlining the business benefits, Murray said that ILM provides structured control over file retention and deletion decisions. Regardless of where the data reside or the type of media employed, they can be managed from one console.

Even with hundreds of applications, dozens of servers, terabytes of online and nearline data, and virtually unlimited offline archives, ILM is robust enough to cut through the complexity and manage an organization’s information effectively.

It also simplifies management by setting policies for the automatic migration, retention and deletion of data throughout its life - so data is always in the right place at the right time.

According to Murray, many enterprises are in the midst of compliance initiatives that require the retention of more data for longer periods. These diverse laws require strict record keeping and auditable records that must be stored for specific periods and under specific conditions.

“The demands of storing corporate e-mail alone, for example, could cause a tenfold expansion in storage needs over the next decade. Legacy architectures simply cannot be expected to cope with the projected demands hence there is need for an ILM policy to be in place,” said Murray.

Three key challenges CIOs face regarding information management

According to Murray, the first challenge is the strong growth of information especially in the wake of the post-dotcom rate of growth, which is around 50%, driven by digitization, increased use of e-mail, etc.

The second challenge is the growing role of information in playing a key part in determining business success. For e.g., in companies like Dell, WalMart and Amazon, the strategic use of information lies at the heart of their respective business models.

Finally, Murray reiterates that information changes in value, and many times not necessarily in a linear fashion. For example, customers become inactive, reducing the need for account information; pending litigation makes certain information more valuable, etc.

Are Indian enterprises ready to accept ILM?

Says Murray, “I have been to a few industry events where CIOs have got up and talked about the importance of aligning their storage strategy with ILM. I think acceptance of ILM is growing, because it demonstrates such clear benefits for the CIO.”

Overview of EMC’s offerings in the ILM space

ILM workshops help customers understand the basics of an infrastructure that enables management of information from creation through archiving or disposal. The free workshops are conducted at a customer site or at EMC.

Secondly, ILM assessment services help customers validate the potential benefits of information lifecycle management. Each assessment is designed to be completed in four to six weeks and results in an ILM roadmap. Assessment is offered in the following areas, application, recoverability, operations, and infrastructure.

The company’s storage managed services provide customers with fixed-term, service level-driven, on-site storage management to help them achieve information lifecycle management to improve efficiency and drive down costs.

According to Murray, all of EMC’s products fit into the ILM strategy. For example, you could have a customer that implements ILM using an AX100 (which begins from US$ 5,999) and EMC’s high-end Symmetrix. All prices are subject to the configurations sold.