Last week, HP gave itself a big jumpstart into the world of database archiving with its acquisition of OuterBay Technologies. Various analysts have claimed that the market for database-archiving products will grow at a rate of more than 50 percent per year for the next few years.

Database archiving, in this case, doesn't refer to the relatively simple task of backing up and archiving data stored in a database. Rather, it's the ability to prune unused data from active databases and migrate it to secondary storage. Archiving improves database-server performance because it reduces the amount of data that the database server needs to manipulate to provide its regular services.

This is an important functionality; it's databases' nature to constantly grow in size. A reliable, policy-based methodology for aging data and migrating that data to accessible, but nonprimary, storage is something that can make or break a large database management system (DBMS). HP has been using OuterBay LiveArchive software as the core of HP's existing HP StorageWorks Reference Information Manager for Databases (RIM for DB) software that it started offering as an OEM product last December. With the acquisition, HP will bring the OuterBay product line under the auspices of the StorageWorks division of HP's Technology Solutions Group. HP has also stated that it will OEM the OuterBay products to EMC, continuing a relationship that OuterBay had already established with EMC, which was OuterBay's largest OEM partner.

The OuterBay software is designed to do more than just tune up primary databases by cleaning up the data. OuterBay claims that its products make data easier to access and organize. They do this by automatically creating a tiered storage infrastructure--not simply migrating data from primary to secondary storage but also indexing the data and converting it to XML format.

Because the data is now stored as XML, it can now be accessed directly by any XML-aware application that can use the data contained therein. Storing the data as XML files makes it available to all sorts of data-analysis tools and also provides a methodology for data migration between XML-aware applications. This can simplify the task of moving to a new computing environment. Data analysis can give users a better look at the way their business actually works, so making this information available can provide a competitive advantage.

As with other recent business acquisitions in the storage market, we can be sure that this is just the first in a series of announcements from the major storage vendors about their efforts to move into the database-archiving space. Although, in many analysts' opinion, OuterBay stood above other startup vendors in this space, other storage vendors will probably soon follow HP by announcing similar acquisitions as well as internally developed database-archival storage applications.

Correction: In last week's commentary, "Open-Source Storage Beckons--But Will Storage Vendors Heed Its Call?" the descriptions of CentOS and Nagios are incorrect. The text should read as follows:

"For example, a company aptly named Open Source Storage has unveiled three RAID storage subsystems that use the MySQL open-source database; the Community ENTerprise Operating System (CentOS), an enterprise-class Linux Distribution derived from the Red Hat Linux OS; and Nagios, an open-source host, service, and network-monitoring program."

Thanks to the readers who pointed out the errors.