IBM is attempting to steal the emerging market in data retention, sparked by new laws, with the release of its TotalStorage Data Retention 450.

The company says the product will help business cope better with data compliance regulations and litigation. The TotalStorage Data Retention 450 is a securable rack unit with AIX running on one or two 64-bit Power4+ processors with one or two FAStT600 storage servers.

These have 2Gbit/s Fibre Channel and up to 8TB of FC disk or up to 28TB of SATA disk in expansion rack drawers. The maximum capacity is 56TB; the minimum 3.5TB. The disks can have RAID 5 protection. There is an 8-port SAN switch included.

HACM means the 450 unit can function as a high-availability cluster. Tivoli Storage Manager for Data Retention provides the main software functionality. IBM has in mind use by companies seeking to deal with the data retention and corporate governance requirements such as Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA and SEC Regulation 17a-4.

The unit comes pre-configured and customers can choose from up to 600 storage devices from a variety of suppliers to populate it. These include LTO and IBM 3592 tape drives, with a future WORM version, as well as optical media.

IBM Global Services is on hand to help customers devise and implement a data retention strategy. All of the components of this solution are also available as individual products that can be assembled by clients, IBM Business Partners or IBM Global Services into customized configurations.

The Tivoli software can verify that data is written correctly and help ensure that no modifications or deletions are made after it is stored. For example, it can ensure that data is not deleted if it is needed during a legal investigation. Retention is policy-driven and can be terminated by an event such as a mortgage completing.

Management and control is solely via the Tivoli Storage Manager API by a variety of content management or archive applications such as DB2 Content Manager CommonStore.

Hierarchical storage capabilities allow you to create policies so data is stored on the type of media that best meets that data's longevity, access speed and cost needs. Data migration can be automated and off-site data is supported.

The IBM product has similarities with EMC's Centera. This is a fixed content storage unit to which EMC partners, such as AXS-One, add application software to transfer data into the unit off higher-cost disk spindles and manage it. However Centera is more restricted in its configuration not allowing, for example, tape and optical storage devices.

IBM's product will be available in March, priced from $141,600. We are waiting to hear back from IBM on UK details and prices.