HP offers data backup system for legal discovery

New HP platform helps companies archive all their e-mail, images, and other files to help when they are hit with a lawsuit or regulatory audit

Hewlett-Packard, which had some well publicized legal troubles of its own not long ago, has unveiled a data backup system to help other companies when they are hit with a lawsuit or regulatory audit.

The HP Integrated Archive Platform is a combination of hardware and software that companies can use to create an archive of all their e-mail, images and other files and then search and retrieve them when they need to.

The product will help companies ensure they comply with regulatory requirements or produce documents for the "e-discovery" phase of lawsuits, said Jonathan Martin, chief marketing officer for HP's information management software.

When companies are sued they are often required to produce mountains of e-mail and other documents relevant to a case. Failure to do so can result in hefty penalties.

Companies building archive systems today often cobble together separate hardware and software products to do so, according to Martin. The parts in HP's system, including ProLiant servers, StorageWorks gear, and HP's indexing and search software, are integrated before the product ships. Pricing starts at $71,000 for a system that can store 1.4TB of data, Martin said.

"Basically you have an information collector that sits on your Microsoft Exchange server, or your Lotus Notes server, or your file servers, and as e-mail flows in and out, or as documents change, that information all gets captured," he said. "We also have partners like Vignette who are able to push information from their content management systems into the archive."

Rivals IBM, EMC, and Sun Microsystems also sell products for building data archives.

Lawsuits are common in the tech industry, but HP was involved in a particularly embarrassing case last year when some of its employees were accused of obtaining phone records illegally to trace the source of leaked company information. Many of the charges ended up being dropped.

More pertinent to HP's new product, Intel got in hot water earlier this year when it said it lost e-mails that could have been important to Advanced Micro Devices' antitrust case against it.

But the most oft-cited story is the $1.4 billion awarded against Morgan Stanley in 2005, in large part because the judge in the case got annoyed with the company for the slow pace at which it produced documents.

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