Storage - it's not the most exciting word, true, but it is an issue that cannot be ducked in today's highly competitive and security-aware business environment.

The message is quite simple: ignore it at your peril. Compliance and the ever increasing threat of data compromise have pushed storage to the forefront of the information security agenda. Organisations need to ensure data integrity and guarantee legitimate accessibility. Their customers and partners need to know this, too.

A properly thought-out approach to storage will not only improve security, it can actually benefit the company as a whole. For example, precious time spent searching for badly managed data adds considerable invisible overheads to the running of a business. Think of the time you have wasted on many occasions - and the frustration that went with it - trawling through your personal inbox or hard drive to locate just one file.

Foolish would be the business, whatever its size, that never backed up valuable data on a regular basis; but it's surprising how many enterprises fail to really think about not just when to back up, but how and what with. There are stories of companies that have been dutifully backing up for weeks and months, only to find that, day after day, they had been rotating a series of blank tapes - because no-one had bothered to check that the back-ups were actually working. For an effective strategy, you need to match your business model with the right storage technology.

Access to data is also vitally important in the age of compliance. When asked, a business needs to know exactly where to lay their hands on data and to be able to extract it with accuracy and speed. Now that legislation is becoming standardised for the UK, as in the US, compliance is clearer and there is technology available to automate the process of compliance, making it less time-consuming. And rather than being a burden, it can actually give an organisation much greater visibility of the information within its business.

Today's storage solutions are able to provide all that, using tried and trusted technology such as tape. Far from being yesterday's kit, tape is just as valuable as it ever was. In some ways, as you will discover, it's actually superior to more recent technologies.

So take a fresh look at storage. I believe this area is hugely relevant to IT security professionals and HP is delighted to sponsor this SC guide to storage. The articles that follow will give you a valuable insight into both the available technology for storage solutions and the reasons for using them. Even better, a good storage strategy will not only help you meet legislation but also improve efficiency among your colleagues.

It might even make them happier.