In a move that could boost the fortunes of storage firms, NASD, the financial services industry's self-regulatory body, yesterday ordered securities brokers and dealers to save instant messages (IMs) sent to clients and employees for at least three years.
"NASD recognizes that instant messaging is becoming increasingly popular as a real-time method of communicating and we want to be clear about our expectations for its use," NASD vice chairman Mary Schapiro said in a statement. "Firms have to remember that regardless of the informality of instant messaging, it is still subject to the same requirements as e-mail communications."
NASD's IM requirement is yet another among many recent regulations -- such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and HIPAA -- that "have very positive implications for the storage segment," says Mike Karp, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates.
The first beneficiaries are likely disk drive companies, according to Karp. "More data means more media sales," he says. "Computers come and go, computer users come and go, even computer companies come and go, but data accumulates."
Cheaper media, such as ATA-based arrays, could benefit the most, adds Karp.
Second to benefit could be the array builders, as soon as the added drives surpass available cabinet space. SRM vendors will also benefit when "companies find out just how hard it is to manage all that extra storage without improved management techniques," Karp concludes.
Many firms have determined that they cannot adequately supervise instant messaging communications and have banned the use of instant messaging for communication with the public, reports NASD, which adds that clear rules about IM could lead more firms to use the technology.
Storage vendors have already begun offering IM solutions to cope with all the new archiving and retention requirements. Iron Mountain, for example, is one company that offers an IM records archiving and retention solution.
The Washington Post recently reported major Wall Street firms generally already save instant messages or prohibit employees from using them. Several firms banned instant messaging after they were fined by NASD for not saving e-mail, according to the paper.
NASD's instant messaging Notice to Members, which clarifies the applicable NASD and SEC rules and guidelines, is currently available at http://www.nasdr.com/pdf-text/0333ntm.pdf.
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