HP DRAGON – Smaug or Y Ddraig Goch?

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HP Data Retention and Guardian Online (HP DRAGON) is a solution primarily aimed at fulfilling the needs of the EU Data Retention Directive (EU DRD), as well as similar communications data retention requirements being put in place elsewhere in the world. However, in mythology dragons are sometimes good but sometimes malevolent. So is HP DRAGON a good dragon like Y Ddraig Goch (the red dragon of Wales) or a bad dragon like Smaug?

In many respects HP DRAGON is similar to other products in the market, not just for storing CDRs (call detail records) and IPDRs (IP detail records) but also for storing log data. That is, it uses an appliance-based approach that ensures tamper-proofing, with compression of the data to reduce storage requirements, and it provides search capabilities and so forth. In other words, it does the things that it is supposed to do.

Of course there are differences too. HP DRAGON is more scalable, at least compared to some of the log management products available on the market. For example, it has several customers ingesting more than one billion xDRs (a combination of CDRs and IPDRs) per day although, along with everybody else, it has yet to prove that it can handle the 8 to 10 billion IPDRs per day that will be required by some of the large ISPs.

Another difference is that HP offers a choice of storage mechanism: you can either use Oracle or the Sensage Event Warehouse, so that you can select the data storage technology that best suits your functional and performance requirements or technology standards. Running analytics or forensics against the data (where allowed by legislation) or integrating communications data retention with other corporate compliance requirements can also influence your storage mechanism choice. Thus, for CDRs only, where you simply want to comply with the EU DRD then Oracle should be fine, but if you also want to store and examine log data then the Sensage-based solution will probably be preferable.

However, there are three big differentiators that HP DRAGON has. First, it has optimised its request management functionality, providing self-service and integration capabilities for law enforcement agencies (LEA), which potentially reduce the considerable operating costs associated with fulfilling lawful requests. HP isn’t entirely alone in having request management capabilities, but it has an advantage against most competitors due to its ability to manage LEA requests for both retained data and lawful intercepts. And the very fact that HP DRAGON integrates with lawful interception facilities represents its second differentiator. Thirdly, HP is a leading provider in the mediation market. That is, HP can take data directly from the switch and process it (intelligently) before it gets stored as a CDR or IPDR. In other words, HP can provide an end-to-end capability that no other vendor can match.

It is also worth considering the market. HP has 19 installations of HP DRAGON of which 17 are in Europe (including Turkey), one is the Middle-East and one is in Brazil.

To conclude: is HP DRAGON from Wales or Middle-Earth? It looks Welsh to me.