HP targets compliance officers with refreshed database archiving software

Beth Pariseau, Senior News Writer
Hewlett-Packard Co. has upgraded its HP Database Archiving software, enhancing the GUI and adding XML encapsulation features to encourage long-term archiving of database transactions for regulatory compliance.

With version 6.0, the software allows data converted into XML to be accessed using structured queries, for the purpose of bringing database archiving to a broader audience that includes compliance officers.

HP Database Archiving software is built on the intellectual property that came to HP when it acquired

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OuterBay in February 2006. Back then, OuterBay had been working on converting database transactions to an industry-standard XML format for long-term, software-agnostic retention. But according to Kevin O'Malley, product maketing manager, that encapsulation wasn't fully ready until this release. Until now, he said, HP Database Archiving software was actually more focused on improving database performance than long-term retention.

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The software's new Designer feature provides a graphical view of database tables, rather than requiring a database expert to build complex queries. "Rather than constructing queries for the entire database schema, Designer allows you to drag and drop certain tables to a canvas," O'Malley said. "It helps you understand the relationships among data in the database and document archival rules, and then generate optimized code."

The goal, he said, is to bring database archiving to a broader audience that includes compliance officers, rather than just database administrators. New support for SQL databases in addition to Oracle is also part of that strategy.

Building complex database archiving policies

One customer of the application since the OuterBay days has been waiting for this capability. Tektronix is planning to add a deep archive for database data, but it has been waiting for the Designer interface so it wouldn't need to tie up a DBA to build the code, according to Lois Hughes, senior manager of IT for the company.

The ability to build complex archiving policies and enforce them through the HP interface will save on database storage, too, Hughes said. "We have different retention regulations in different countries – some as long as 15 years, others seven years, or something in between," she said. "Rather than keeping everything in every country for 15 years, we can define more granular retention periods."

Tektronix will also put the XML formatting to use in order to "sunset" legacy systems. With the new XML formatting, Hughes said, "I can get rid of nine old Oracle 10.7 and Oracle 11.1 instances left over from two companies we've bought, which will save us hundreds of thousands of dollars in IT personnel and support costs."

However, Hughes has not been able to take the new software for a test drive yet. Her impressions of the new features come from a recent HP demonstration she's seen of how the new software works.

Toward a unified archive

In addition to allowing long-term archiving of transactional data for regulatory compliance or e-discovery purposes, the XML encapsulation also brings HP a step closer to archiving that's totally unified across database, file and email data. The XML format takes a transaction and makes it "almost unstructured," according to O'Malley, which also makes it storable and searchable within HP's general-purpose Information Access Platform (IAP).

While this back-end integration is possible today, front-end integration through unified archiving software interfaces is not yet available. HP also has to work to bring the SharePoint archiving intellectual property it acquired with Tower Software in April into the fold, as well as other security and chain of custody software in its portfolio, according to IDC analyst Carl Olofson. Ultimately, the goal would be to coordinate archiving processes operationally.

So far, though, database archiving hasn't received nearly the same attention or traction in the market as file or email archiving. "People have been slow to adopt," said analyst Brian Babineau, Enterprise Strategy Group. "But one-third of organizations [surveyed by ESG] who have not already adopted database archiving are planning to do so in the next 24 months. People realize they need to do something with database data." However, he added, database performance and security are still the biggest drivers for that adoption.

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