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EMC buys Tablus for data classification and security

Beth Pariseau

EMC Corp. announced Thursday afternoon that its RSA Security division will acquire privately held Tablus Inc. for an undisclosed amount. According to the company, the IP from this acquisition will be integrated into both its storage and security

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product lines.

The company's product performs data classification and policy-based enforcement of data, and the acquisition was principally made with the goal of preventing data "leakage" from organizations for security purposes. (For more on the data security implications of this announcement, please see EMC's RSA to acquire Tablus for data loss prevention" by Dennis Fisher on SearchSecurity.com.) But according to Dennis Hoffman, vice president and chief strategy officer at RSA, the software acquired from Tablus will also have integration points with storage and data management products, including the InfoScape file management software offering.

"There are three use cases [for this type of product]," Hoffman said. Two of them are security focused, but EMC also thinks there's a use case around "how to understand and classify data with an eye toward more efficiently storing and managing it, including how to migrate data intelligently between tiers of storage, which is what Infoscape initially set out to go after."

It remains unclear, however, what kind of customer traction EMC has seen with the InfoScape product, which was put together using pieces from Documentum, DiskXTender and Visual SRM, among other software products. It remains unknown how many EMC customers have purchased the product or are using it in production. Hoffman declined to comment on this subject.

"My belief is that InfoScape hasn't made huge strides in the market," said Arun Taneja, founder and analyst with the Taneja Group. The data classification market itself is in its early stages, and so far the biggest penetration into user accounts has been Network Appliance Inc.'s (NetApp) with partner Kazeon Systems Inc., "and even those are nickels and dimes."

By adding the ability to classify semistructured data, like email and structured data from databases, as well as data from endpoints, like desktop workstations, to the unstructured classification capabilities InfoScape already has, some experts believe the InfoScape product could become more palatable to users.

Currently, according to John Webster, principal IT advisor for Illuminata Inc., InfoScape is limited to seeing CIFS file shares attached to a network, as well as NFS file shares under HP-UX that are attached to a network. "This goes out and discovered unstructured, structured and semistructured data at rest, as well as data in flight," he said. "This is a big leap forward for a product like InfoScape -- anybody who's already looked at it and said 'that's nice, but when you get more serious about [its capabilities], let me know,' will now have to take a second look."

Greg Schulz, founder and analyst with the StorageIO Group, pointed out that IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) have also recently added better data discovery and archiving capabilities for structured data with IBM's acquisition of Princeton Softech last week and HP's acquisition of database archiver OuterBay Technologies Inc. last year. "Then there are the email archiving and unstructured file [products], so the more capabilities that InfoScape can provide without becoming too watered-down should make it a more compelling and competitive product."

The data classification capabilities could also be added to archiving products, which Hoffman said is in EMC's plans, along with integration with the Rainfinity file virtualization product. It still remains unclear, though, exactly when these integrations will take place, or how. "The acquisition will close sometime in the early fourth quarter," according to an RSA spokesperson. "We don't have a specific timetable yet."