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Princeton Softech is one of those companies that has been around for a relatively long time (that is, measured in decades rather than months or years) but is still relatively unknown.
The company made its name and its money in the market for automating test data management, a space in which it was (and is) a leading provider, along with the likes of Compuware and Computer Associates. This left the company in the fortunate position of having a major cash cow and then deciding where to invest the money.
One venture the company undertook in the last century was to buy Select Business Systems. However, this didn't really work out: there were no great synergies between the different parts of the business and the market for modelling tools such as Select did not take off in the way that Princeton Softech had hoped, so Select was sold on.
Eventually, the company decided that it should invest in its own R&D and move into a new area where it could continue to leverage its existing technology. This has turned out to be a wise decision: its new product set (in fact, introduced in 1999) reuses the relational engine from its older product and this has re-assured many companies as to the robustness of the technology.
What Princeton Softech decided to focus on was database archiving and its product set is called Active Archive. The name is important. Traditionally, archiving has been thought of as writing data to tape and putting it in a cupboard somewhere and forgetting about it. Archiving today isn't like that. You need to store more data for longer (often for corporate governance reasons but also for other purposes). Moreover, you are far more likely to need to be able to access that data easily.
There is a third distinction: you need different levels of archive. There are some sorts of data that may only need to be retrieved occasionally, but regularly enough to warrant the retention on disk, even if that is outside the main database.
In other words you need a hierarchy of archival options from occasionally used data, through very seldom used data, to data that you have to keep for legislative reasons but that you otherwise probably wouldn't have to both with. Princeton Softech provides facilities to allow you to identify which category particular data belongs to, define rules (either business rules, time-based rules or whatever) that determine how and when to archive, and the use of different archival strategies such as on-line in a database, on-line in a compressed flat file, on tape, or whatever is appropriate.
Of course the reason why archival of active data is important now is because of the explosion of data volumes. This places an expensive strain on the database. As the database gets bigger, so do the indexes built against it and you require more and more (expensive) disk capacity. Worse, performance goes down so you need more tin just to keep up.
Archival of the type provided by Princeton Softech takes the strain off the main transactional system by reducing its size and, therefore, increasing performance. Moreover, disk costs are reduced, tape backups reduced and so on and so forth. This is about the easiest technology in the world to prove an ROI basis for: if you haven't looked at the benefits that the likes of Princeton Softech can provide, then its high time you did.
Copyright 2003. Originally published by IT-Director.com, reprinted with permission. IT-Director.com provides IT decision makers with free daily e-mails containing news analysis, member-only discussion forums, free research, technology spotlights and free on-line consultancy. To register for a free e-mail subscription, click here.
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