For the long term, data formats such as Adobe Systems Inc.'s PDF/A, Microsoft Corp.'s Microsoft Office Open XML file format and XML-based standards like OpenDoc should ensure that data continues to be readable. Developers are beginning to embrace these long shelf-life data formats, so there's a good chance the applications your company uses can be updated or enhanced to add these capabilities. On the storage format side, it's critical to create meta data describing what files are being stored and how they were created. According to Forrester Research's Balaouras, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) will be instrumental in creating standards for both information lifecycle management (ILM) and the eXtensible Access Method (XAM) standard, which gives ILM applications a standard interface and meta data structure to communicate with object-based storage systems. Meta data stored with each object identifies the owner, the application that created the file, data format and so forth. The standard specifically addresses both long-term retention standards and data security.