Regulatory and security issues around financial and medical records have led EMC to upgrade one of its storage products.

The company Tuesday announced the Compliance Edition of Centera, a storage system that it released a year ago

this month. Although EMC has called Centera its fastest-growing product line, its sales force has run into an expected roadblock, according to one of its executives. Customers lauded the device’s ability to scale to hundreds of terabytes and manage unchanged or “”fixed”” data, he said, but banks and health-care institutions needed something that would address the growing number of laws that govern how long files have to be kept.

“”We learned literally the hard way,”” said Ken Steinhardt, EMC’s director of technology analysis.

Though laws and regulations vary according to vertical market and geography, some Canadian health-care rules, for example, require records to be kept for 10 years or more. This has become a concern as hospitals rush to turn paper files into electronic patient records, a strategy encouraged by last year’s Romanow report.

Steinhardt said Centera Compliance Edition would deal with the problem at the object level, allowing users to select how long the record needs to be retained. Each time an item of data is stored, a mathematical algorithm creates a unique identifier, which Steinhardt likened to a claim check, which will securely allow them to access it. This key would also show users if a record is changed for any reason.

Robert Terdeman, CTO and senior vice-president of Rogers Medical Intelligence Solutions, said the company uses Centera throughout its organization, including its Toronto office. The company, which collects and publishes health information, isn’t bound by any regulatory issues, but Terdeman said an upgrade to Compliance Edition could help it monitor how licensed content is stored and used on other Web sites.

“”Most people use it for a single application like records retention, or billing. They’re missing the boat,”” he said. “”This technology is equivalent to where enterprise storage was as a concept in the beginning of the last decade. This a new technology to enable a whole class of information, and particularly unstructured information, to be serially reused.””

Steinhardt said he thinks EMC has a considerable lead on competitors. “”They just don’t get it yet,”” he said. “”If they’re not working with the same application providers that live in that space, they’re oblivious to it. We were oblivious to it.””

Potential regulations and laws facing enterprise record keepers include the Ontario Securities Commission’s Regulation 101

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