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Mercury tools aim for IT data compliance

New applications and hosted services to help IT departments comply with Sarbanes-Oxley regulations.

Mercury Interactive has expanded its corporate governance applications to help information technology departments comply with Sarbanes-Oxley regulations.

The company on Monday is expected to release Mercury IT Governance Center 6.0, a set of programs for managers of IT departments. The suite includes tools for managing IT projects and automating certain tasks such as adding updates to systems.

Other Mercury products allow IT executives to test business applications and monitor them once they are installed.

Corporate customers are spending a significant amount of time and money complying with federal regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, which seeks to make companies' accounting procedures more transparent to investors and regulators, and HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) in the health care industry. That trend is benefiting Mercury, which saw its revenue jump 27 percent for the first quarter this year.

Along with Mercury IT Governance Center 6.0, the company is releasing an "accelerator," or application template, to provide guidelines on how IT departments should change their operations to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley regulations.

For example, IT groups can no longer have one person who writes and tests the same piece of code because it could represent a substantial risk to business systems, according to Mercury.

"Software automates so many of the business processes in a company, the risks in Sarbanes-Oxley in IT are equal to those in the finance department," said Christopher Lochhead, chief marketing officer at Mercury. "The way IT runs has to change in a pretty significant way."

The Mercury governance products automate common IT procedures, such as making changes and testing, and provide an audit trail.

The company is offering its governance applications, as well as its Quality Center testing product, on a hosted basis. This could appeal to companies seeking to rapidly step up their compliance efforts, Lochhead said