Irish firm taps into emerging storage trends

23 May 2007

The secure storage, retrieval and final destruction of documents under various corporate enforcement rules such as Sarbanes-Oxley, while a headache to the business world, may prove to be a boon to a growing South Dublin technology firm.

Document management company SoftCo is shifting its focus to the high-growth content addressed storage (CAS) market that has also attracted the interest of global IT leaders HP and EMC.

The Dublin company has developed a hardware independent compliance and storage software technology called StorLife that protects information over its entire life-cycle.

The StorLife technology utilises Write Once, Read Many (WORM) or single-instance storage that when a file or object is stored on a magnetic disk, a “digital fingerprint” is created using an industry-standard hashing algorithm based on the binary content of the object.

“This generates a statistically unique fingerprint of the data,” explained Alan Kilduff, director of software development at SoftCo. “If someone alters that content the fingerprint isn’t going to match.”

The company is targeting the hardware-independent technology at businesses that need to meet strict compliancy rules in Ireland and overseas. The key advantage for businesses is that they don’t have to change their existing storage infrastructure to use the StorLife product.

“There is a whole market starting to emerge. At present the leaders in the market would be EMC who acquired a technology called Centera for long-term archiving and we aim to go head to head with them,” says Kilduff.

Another trend is that magnetic disks are back in vogue as a storage method of choice. “The optical storage market is dying a death. Magnetic disks are not only cheaper but more reliable.

“In tandem with this is the rise of the CAS market for not only the fast online retrieval of documents but also the management of the life-cycle of sensitive documents and their ultimate destruction under US Department of Defence standards. This will have an impact on telecom companies who have regulatory requirements to hold on to data for a period and destroy it when that period expires.

“At present companies that use optical storage disks have to have guys breaking the disks with hammers in the presence of a witness to meet regulatory requirements. With magnetic disks and good data life-cycle management that’s unnecessary.

“This is a brand new technology, and the forerunner of a new generation of application and workflow platforms,” Kilduff said.

He said the StorLife technology is the product of two and a half years of research and development and the company has appointed a pan-European distribution firm called Acal as its value-added distributor.

“We are also in talks with a household-name software company about developing an application for email archiving whereby at the back end we’ll manage the data,” Kilduff told

By John Kennedy