EMC has announced three technology bundles for archiving e-mail and electronic documents using its Centera storage products.

The pre-configured offerings include e-mail archiving tools from EMC's Legato Software division, plus document archiving and retrieval software from the storage vendor's Documentum unit and Mobius Management Systems.

EMC said the bundles can be used standalone or as part of information life-cycle management (ILM) applications that also involve its mainstream Symmetrix and Clariion arrays and its Celerra network-attached storage devices.

The company also announced a new version of its Centera operating software. CentraStar 2.3 makes writing and reading data twice as fast, EMC claims, as well as improve data retention for compliance with new laws.

The combined offerings give users more of a plug-and-play approach to buying storage hardware and software than the a la carte sales model that EMC typically uses, said John Gubernat, the vendor's director of global solutions for compliance and enterprise content management.

CareGroup, which operates six hospitals, uses Symmetrix, Clariion and Centera devices as part of an ILM system for storing radiology images, patient records, e-mail and data from PeopleSoft's ERP applications. But CIO John Halamka said his staff cobbled together the ILM setup the hard way, without the benefit of a packaged offering.

EMC's announcement should be "very good news" for users that haven't adopted a do-it-yourself strategy yet, Halamka said. He added that CareGroup over the past three years has combined EMC's storage hardware, Cisco switches and middleware in an effort to address the regulatory requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

CareGroup's storage-area network backs up data from 175 Windows servers and 25 clustered Unix systems, storing X-rays and clinical records that are new or less than a year old on the high-end Symmetrix arrays. Files and images that are less than 10 years old are stored on Clariion devices. Once they surpass the 10-year mark, the records are shifted to Centera.

Halamka wouldn't disclose the cost of the project, but he said CareGroup is saving more than $3 million a year. Most of the savings can be attributed to not having to publish patient records on paper and radiological images on celluloid.

"Now the entire organisation runs on electronic records," Halamka said. "Our system will show you which X-ray has been shot and what class of storage it lives on. So if you click on something shot yesterday, you get it immediately. If it's something shot a year ago, you get it in 30 seconds. If it was shot 10 years ago, it takes a full minute."

Peter Gerr, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group said EMC's new packages may give users in regulated industries a level of comfort on compliance. "They're also proving that they're working to integrate their acquisitions," Gerr said. "I don't think it's a mistake that two of the three bundles include Legato and Documentum software."

EMC didn't disclose its pricing for the new bundles, saying that costs will vary widely depending on the configuration.