HP app preserves SharePoint for the ages

Hewlett-Packard has updated its records management software so it can now capture for legal posterity Microsoft SharePoint files and even entire SharePoint workspaces, the company announced.

The newly released version 7 of HP Trim comes with two optional modules that capture SharePoint activity, one for records management and the other for archiving purposes, said Patrick Eitenbichler, a director of worldwide product marketing for HP's software and solutions division.

With archiving, material is copied or moved to a separate location for operational reasons, such as for backup and recovery purposes or performance improvement. With records management, material is saved for a specified period of time as unalterable documents, to comply with institutional or governmental mandates.

For administrators, SharePoint has represented a new challenge in both of these fronts. Microsoft has sold more than a million licenses for SharePoint Server and considers the collaboration platform to be one of the fastest-growing products in its server portfolio, in terms of sales, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.

In fact, SharePoint usage is reputedly so widespread that HP has found that a sizeable portion of its customers are running out of storage space or processor cycles to maintain all these instances, Eitenbichler said. Administrators also worry about the legal risks associated with deleting this material, some of which should be saved as official records, he added.

Trim could capture SharePoint records prior to version 7, but it was limited to manual entry and could capture only documents, Eitenbichler said. Now, administrators can set up policies for automatic retention of all types of SharePoint-generated content, including blog entries, blog comments, calendar entries and workflow events.

"Trim is hooked into the [Windows] object model, so it knows anytime a change happens on a SharePoint Server," he said.

The records administrator can pick what types of content are to be preserved as records and what the retention policies should be for them. Any sort of SharePoint metadata, usually filled in by the user, can be used as a hook for identifying some material as records. Once something is declared a record, it cannot be altered in any way. Also, the entire SharePoint workspace can be captured and preserved.

The software supports both Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and the upcoming SharePoint Server 2010.

Besides the SharePoint support, other new features for Trim include a Web client that mimics all the features of the desktop client, the ability to work natively on 64-bit servers, improved integration with the Microsoft .Net framework, a speedier and more robust search engine and double-byte Unicode support for additional languages, Eitenbichler said.

HP also announced that the U.S. Department of Defense certified Trim version 7 suitable for official records-management use by the U.S. services, under the version 3 standard of DoD policy 5015.2-STD.

Although developed for military certification, about half of HP's nonmilitary prospects have used 5015.2 as a requirement for purchasing records management systems, Eitenbichler said.

Although not a leader in the records management market, HP's Trim is a mature, if not yet fully comprehensive offering, said Forrester senior analyst Brian W. Hill. Leaders in this space include products from CA, EMC, IBM, Open Text and Oracle. Trim still lacks support, for instance, in ingesting some material from legacy records management systems.

The new version makes strides in filling out the needed capabilities.

"This is a significant release for HP, and I'm encouraged by the direction," Hill said. The company's "ability to integrate with SharePoint goes a long way in addressing the market's needs."

SharePoint itself has some records management capabilities, and the new version due this spring will have even more.

A Forrester survey found that 17 percent of organizations using SharePoint used the records management capability. Yet SharePoint's native capabilities aren't "sufficient for most organizations," Hill said, noting that enterprises still find difficulties with the software in declaring records, as well as setting file plan constraints and legal hold limitations. Also, it hasn't been certified under 5015.2-STD yet.

Although a mature technology, the electronic records management market seems to be going through a period of change, Hill said. In a survey conducted last fall, Forrester found that 56 percent of records management managers plan to ramp up or extend deployments in 2010. Many already run records management systems but need to "put retention controls around a broader array of electronic assets," Hill said.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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