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Does email archiving mean keep everything?

An expert at the Storage Decisions conference weighs in on whether it makes sense to keep data forever or if reducing data also reduces risk. Plus dirt on conniving lawyers and dodgy tape practices.

CHICAGO -- Mark Diamond, consultant with Contoural Inc., said a survey of clients showed 29% found email archiving for the long term less risky, in terms of compliance, than attempting to reduce data, while 21% thought deleting data on a regular basis was less risky. Forty-two percent answered that they are not sure.

A convincing case for long-term retention, however, was found when Diamond offered insight into the inner workings of a lawyers mind in a presentation to Chicago's storage networking user group Wednesday morning. One slide in the presentation contained a quote from an unnamed lawyer saying that his/her primary litigation strategy is first to send a letter to the lowest ranking member of a company's legal department announcing intentions to file suit.

"We know it'll take at least a month for that letter to bubble up," the anonymous source said. "After 120 days, we actually file the suit and our first item of discovery is email dating from the time our initial letter was sent."

By then, according to Diamond's source, most companies have moved data off primary systems and rotated backup tapes.

"We then file for a summary judgment based on destruction of evidence," concluded the statement. We can only imagine the lawyer giggling here.

"Deletion policies don't delete, they only drive underground archival and increase discovery costs," Diamond said. "And the bad emails always seem to turn up."

EMC and 3Par -- Competing?

More than one user, when asked what SAN products they were evaluating, named the heretofore interesting combination of big guys EMC Corp. vs. startup 3Par Data Inc. Every user who said they were pitting EMC's Clariion vs. 3Par's InServ said that 3Par's thin provisioning and virtualization features were appealing, but that business factors still pose roadblocks to adopting what several admitted was the technically preferable product.

"If I go into my company's upper management and try to talk about 3Par," said one, "I've got some explaining to do."

Analyst PO'd over shoeshining

"If I hear one more customer of a major tape vendor -- and I've heard at least one from all of them -- come up to me and tell me that their vendors have eliminated shoeshining with their high-performance tape drive, I'm going to flip out!" said Curtis Preston, analyst with GlassHouse Technologies Inc., during a conversation at Ask the Experts on the trade show floor Wednesday night. (Shoeshining is the industry parlance for what occurs when a tape drive repeatedly has to wait for data, stopping and rewinding back to the last point in its writing process, dragging the magnetic tape back and forth on the track like a shoeshiner's rag. The process causes tapes to wear out before its time.)

Preston said the rationale behind the "shoeshining a thing of the past" contention is that the speed of high-performance drives can be stepped down by 50%. But, he said, it doesn't make much of a difference if half speed for one of the newer drives, with compression, is 90 MBps. "What disk drive in the world runs at 90 MBps?" he said. "And if you can't stream data to the tape at 90 MBps, what do you get? Shoeshining."

Preston told he had a message for tape vendors. "Quit freakin' telling all your customers that shoeshining is a thing of the past. I don't know if it's a lie or just stupidity, but it couldn't be more wrong."

User: Overland REO 9000 and Powerpath don't mix

A user from an energy distribution company in Texas, who declined to be named, told SearchStorage that he had ripped an Overland Storage Inc. REO 9000 disk backup system out of his environment in frustration after it failed to work with his Clariion's PowerPath multipathing system, despite repeated efforts to fix the problem by his staff and Overland's engineers.

"The first time I tried to use it, the server wouldn't recognize the LUNs [on the REO 9000]," he said. "I never got it to recognize those LUNs again."

The user said Overland's engineers thought initially it was a hardware issue and changed out the motherboard on the REO 9000. When it still failed to work, the user said, Overland admitted to him that there had been problems with this configuration before, and that they are specific to the 9000. The user said he still uses an REO 4000 in his environment and it works with PowerPath.

"Overland offered to try and help me resolve the issue," he said, "but I just got away from that product before we had any more problems."

The user said Overland had never filled him in on exactly what the issue was.

In an statement emailed to SearchStorage, Overland said neither its product documentation nor third party software interoperability matrix mention EMC PowerPath. "We are unaware of any claim of REO/PowerPath interoperability by EMC. Thus, we are unclear how the customer reached this expectation. But in the interest of maintaining the best possible relationship with users of our products, we urge the (unnamed) customer to contact our technical support team to discuss this issue."

IDC analyst reads storage fortune

IDC analyst Robert Gray predicted, in the opening keynote at Storage Decisions, that in the future, grid computing will take over the storage world. By grid, a term often interchanged with clustered storage, Gray said he meant an infrastructure consisting of redundant processors sharing workload (as is seen in high-performance computing environments).

In a poll during Gray's talk, 42% of respondents said they thought they would begin implementing a grid computing infrastructure in their environments within three years; the next-largest percentage estimated five years. Nineteen percent remained unconvinced, while 18% said they were either currently implementing such a system or estimated they would within one year.

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