Plasmon’s New UDO Media Destroys Records, By Design
September 20, 2005 Alex Woodie
In the hit TV show “Mission: Impossible,” team members were told “this tape will self-destruct in five seconds,” and it always did, in a tiny puff of smoke. While AS/400 shops typically aren’t involved in fighting international espionage, they do need a (legal) way to keep the prying eyes of lawyers off their backups and archives. Plasmon recently unveiled a new line of Ultra Density Optical (UDO) media cartridges aimed at helping users comply with data-retention regulations, while limiting their legal exposure from keeping certain records unnecessarily long.
Companies today are grappling with a slew of new regulations, including SOX, HIPAA, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, and others that dictate how certain parts of their businesses will be run, including which records they must keep, how they are to be stored (usually on unalterable media), and how long companies must store them (up to 30 years in some cases). While it is important for companies to comply with the new laws, they should be careful not to expose themselves to civil litigation by keeping records beyond their expiration date.
There’s a fine line between being a good corporate citizen and painting a giant target on one’s head saying “Sue Me.” Basically, if a company gets into a lawsuit, and the plaintiff subpoenas certain records from the company, that company is required by law to produce those records, even if the company was no longer required to keep them on file. This is also one of the reasons companies should consider implementing a information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy that reconciles the two forms of long-term storage: archives for regulatory compliance, and backups for disaster recovery.
This Record Will Self Destruct in Seven Years
The new Compliant Write Once line of UDO cartridges unveiled by UDO-pioneer Plasmon earlier this month should go a long way toward helping companies meet data-retention requirements, without exposing themselves to litigation by keeping data too long.
Compliant Write Once, which is the third type of 5.25-inch UDO media offered by Plasmon, combines the regulatory benefits of write once, read many (WORM) media with the capability to alter data in one important way–deleting it–that is found in standard rewriteable media. The other types of media offered by Plasmon are its standard rewritable UDO cartridge and its WORM cartridge, which it calls True Write Once.
The record destruction capability of Compliant Write Once media exceeds that of standard rewritable media through a special “shred” operation that enables users to physically destroy targeted data sectors on Compliant Write Once media, Plasmon says. “Unlike the erase pass on magnetic disks, the shred operation on ‘phase change’ media leaves no residual traces of previously written data,” Plasmon says. “As a result, shredding data on Compliant Write Once media provides the highest possible standard for absolute data destruction.”
The shredding capability of Compliant Write Once media gives UDO an advantage over new disk-based WORM offerings, according to Brian Garrett, analyst and technical director of Enterprise Strategy Group (formerly the Enterprise Storage Group), a Massachusetts analyst firm. “Plasmon’s offering is particularly compelling because it offers shredding technology which destroys data and keeps an audit trail to verify that the data was indeed eliminated. This is a capability that current disk-based systems do not have and thus a major advantage for those in business environments where compliance is a major issue,” he says.
Plasmon also received kudos from IDC for Compliant Write Once. “IDC believes that the addition of such a finite yet static data protection capability is an important evolution of WORM technology. Enabling data to be retained the correct length of time will provide data protection and compliance officers with the necessary tools to deal with deletion, as well as retention,” says Claus Egge, a program director in the European Storage Research division of IDC.
Nigel Street, Plasmon’s chief executive, says customer demand drove the company to develop Compliant Write Once media. “Organizations are under increasing pressure to address the risks of both non- and over-compliance with record retention requirements,” he says.
U.K.-based Plasmon and IBM partnered in 2004 to bring UDO technology to the iSeries. That work was completed about a year ago with the delivery of a PTF for i5/OS (see “UDO Storage Now Available for the iSeries”).
Today IBM and Plasmon are working to migrate users of IBM’s 3995 optical library to Plasmon’s G-Series libraries. A new whitepaper published by Plasmon in July discusses the two options OS/400 shops have for moving the data stored on their IBM 3995 libraries to Plasmon UDO: data migration, or media migration. You can open the PDF document, which is titled “Data and Media Migration from the IBM 3995 to the Plasmon G-Series for IBM OS/400,” at www.plasmon.com/downloads/pdf/migration.pdf.
UDO drives currently in the field can be upgraded to support the new Compliant Write Once drives via a simple firmware upgrade, Plasmon says. iSeries shops have one option for housing their UDO drives: Plasmon’s G-Series optical libraries. The G-Series libraries are unique in that they can support both 5.25-inch optical drive technologies offered by Plasmon, including its older 9GB magneto optical (MO) drives and its 30GB UDO drives.
In addition to its line of G-Series for OS/400 libraries, the company offers desktop UDO drives, but these only support Windows and Linux. Plasmon’s UDO product roadmap called for the delivery of 60GB UDO drives in 2005, but it doesn’t appear the company will meet that initial plan.