Network Middle East electronic edition 7th February, 2005

Information Lifecycle Management is the clarion call of storage vendors but as proprietary solutions are flooding the market, is a wait and see approach best advised?

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By  Simon Duddy Published  February 6, 2005

Information enigma|~|storage-comm_m.jpg|~||~|Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) has taken storage by storm and it’s easy to see why. Increasing regulation requires the enterprise to keep a tighter rein on its data and know what information is where and stored on what hardware. ILM provides the tools to do this, with content-aware storage allowing companies to index, track, direct, and locate data in real time. However, the ability to deliver ILM has fallen short in many areas, with enterprises hitting teething troubles and unexpected and unwelcome side effects. The burden on software to make ILM work is heavy and arguably, the technology is not mature enough to deliver satisfactorily. Classification and indexing of data is central to ILM and devising a software application that can do this automatically is a tall order. Many storage players simply do not have it in their offering. Furthermore, among those that do, the applications have limitations in that they cannot always be applied universally. For example, the tools will classify information from certain applications but cannot be used to address general data needs. The software also doesn’t come cheap, although if implemented correctly, the storage space saved should pay for the solution in time. Perhaps the greatest potential pitfall for end users interested in ILM, however, is vendor lock-in. The lack of maturity in the market means that for companies wanting to delve into this approach, proprietary solutions are a must. Standards simply have not had the time to catch up. Without industry standards, however, once a company has committed to a point solution with one vendor and tailored its system accordingly it can be difficult to back out or diversify products down the line. Further integration woes will become apparent when classification and policy software, does not necessarily work with all data management and movement technologies, again because standards have still not had time to catch up. Of course vendors are right to forge ahead with proprietary networks that can provide useful point solutions for the enterprise but with ILM being a solution with a strong emphasis on communication across the enterprise, a propriety nature can create problems. The products that provide the best performance in terms of integration, compatibility and manageability will be those that gain a lasting presence in the market. While ILM is a fine idea, it is such an all-encompassing one that end users should be very careful to see how the solution will relate to the storage and document management picture as a whole. It may be worth pursuing ILM anyway, such are the well-publicised benefits for data-centric companies with a large storage to relieve, but the fragmented approach prevalent in the market will no doubt lead to many headaches for network managers, even if CIOs are eventually happy that money is being saved.||**||

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