The New Document Specialist?

IBM makes its third document-management acquisition as retention regulations spur market growth.

Move over Xerox: A casual industry observer might have grounds to mistake IBM Corp. as the new document specialist.

Big Blue last month made its third document management-related acquisition in two years, picking up Green Pasture Software, a privately held purveyor of document management products. IBM’s move highlights the explosive growth of the enterprise document management space, which is being spurred largely by regulatory requirements that mandate the retention and aging of data.

First, in 2002, IBM purchased Tarian, a Canadian-based provider of software for managing electronic records. Then, earlier this year, IBM acquired Aptrix, a purveyor of Web content management software.

Big Blue has a good track record of executing on its document-management-related acquisitions. Last October it introduced DB2 Content Manager Express, a "light" edition of its DB2 Content Manager offering that was intended for small-to-medium-sized businesses. DB2 Content Manager Express incorporated technologies from both Tarian and Aptrix.

IBM says Green Pasture Software provides document management software that enables a variety of real-time document management scenarios, especially of documents that incorporate interrelated parts, such as spreadsheets, multimedia files, and CAD references. According to Big Blue, many of Green Pasture Software’s existing customers use the software to automate and streamline document management across multiple business operations, including product development, financial reporting, and compliance with governmental requirements.

As IT organizations have struggled to address the requirements of several new and expanded Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations, along with regulatory legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, document management solutions have increasingly come to the fore.

Regulatory statutes typically specify minimum retention periods of important data, including documents, memos, e-mails, and other internal communications. Some, such as SEC Rule 240.17a-4 (which mandates a retention period of up to six years for e-mail and other business records) and Rule 240.17a-4(f) (which requires data be preserved and maintained in a manner that guarantees its authenticity) have set the stage for storage-based products that can vouchsafe the integrity of content.

EMC Corp., for example, this year introduced its Centera Compliance Edition, a content-addressed storage array that’s in the forefront of compliance-ready backup solutions. Centera provides fixed, object-oriented storage, and addresses the Rule 17a-4(f) requirement because it makes it impossible for someone to change or delete data without also leaving an audit trail of the transaction.

EMC’s Centera family, for its part, provides online access for a range of fixed content, including electronic business documents, check images, e-mail archives, electronic statements, and completed CAD/CAM designs.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.