Compliance has spawned a whole new infrastructure. But how can you be sure your information processes comply with regulations? Only by having special software to monitor its production, distribution, access and storage.

Step forward EMC's Documentum acquisition with its Documentum Compliance Manager or DCM.

It's an "easy-to-use, Web-based application that enables companies to securely create, store, share, revise, approve and distribute information within an automated and audited environment." Apparently. With it companies "can also develop, maintain and monitor content-related processes, in accordance with regulatory requirements," the pitch continues.

DCM automates content control by creating a Web-driven knowledge chain that links disconnected, manual processes for collecting, sharing and applying controlled content to meet quality goals and compliance requirements.

It's a development from Documentum's DocControl Manager and fits in nicely with EMC's information lifecycle (ILM) ideas. Indeed, that's why EMC acquired Documentum. Documents that must compliy are generally fixed content and fit naturally into EMC's Centera device when on-line access is needed, but also onto potential future tape devices from EMC.

"Documentum Compliance Manager provides the visibility and control that allows companies in a wide range of industries to more effectively manage content through controlled repositories, process automation, collaboration, communications, archival and business integration capabilities," said Dave DeWalt, president of the Documentum software division of EMC.

Naturally most of the compliance regulations mentioned are American: the Food and Drug Administration's prescribed regulatory requirements for electronic records and signatures (FDA 21 CFR Part 11); International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9000 quality guidelines; Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. No doubt British and European ones will be added as time goes by.

DCM is just part of a broader set of enterprise content management (ECM) offerings from Documentum. Other vendors are building document/content management and compliance offerings too. Including IBM.

IBM's greener pastures
IBM has a Lotus Workplace Web Content Management product based on its Aptrix acquisition. It provides a set of development tools for building a Web site, storing the content (including HTML) within the DB2 Content Manager (see below) repository, and pulling it up and reusing it.

IBM also bought document management supplier Green Pasture Software in 2003 and rebranded its technology as DB2 Document Manager. According to Gartner analysts, the Green Pasture technology will help IBM better compete with Documentum and FileNet.

All of which highlights just how far EMC has come from its predominant disk array hardware and software supplier status of a couple of years ago.