ILM uncovered

Although the EMEA region is lagging behind in the global race to abandon tape libraries, the trend is unlikely to abate. Enterprises are replacing hundreds of terabytes of tape library capacity with disk-based solutions.

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By  Sarah Gain Published  July 25, 2005

|~|James-Body.jpg|~|James: By assisting with information classification and policy-based management we can help customers address and align business needs to technology capabilities. |~|Information lifecycle management (ILM) does not rank high on the priority list of CIOs in the Middle East, according to Gartner Group. ILM, a term originally coined by the research firm, is a comprehensive approach to managing the flow of an information system's data from creation and initial storage to the time when it becomes obsolete. Unlike earlier approaches to data storage management, ILM involves all aspects of dealing with data, starting with user practices, rather than just automating storage procedures.

Data management has become increasingly important as businesses face compliance regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which dictates how corporations must deal with different types of data. Data management experts believe ILM should be an organisation-wide solution, involving procedures and practices driven by business issues, as well as technology applications.

In practical terms, the adoption of ILM involves two distinct phases. Tony Prigmore, senior analyst for the US-based research firm, the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), refers to these stages as ‘getting everything together’ and ‘securely extracting data’. He says most enterprises are streamlining and upgrading elements of their storage architecture to prepare the infrastructure for ILM deployment.

“It is the first phase, which involves three important decisions for IT specialists. [CIOs] must consider the matters of tape replacement, network-based intelligence and storage security — these are the three key enablers for ILM,” Prigmore explains.

Although the EMEA region is lagging behind in the global race to abandon tape libraries, the trend is unlikely to abate. ESG claims enterprises are choosing to replace hundreds of terabytes or even petabytes of tape library capacity with disk-based solutions. Having surveyed 200 customers, ESG says while 18% have permanently replaced tape with disk, a further 58% are considering making the move.

“These early adopters have migrated a mean capacity of 50-99 TB, and 26% have adopted more than 100 TB. Looking forward, the majority of users expect more than 40% of their current tape-based capacity will have been migrated to disk three years from now. With the exploding quantities of data, all businesses must give their storage needs serious consideration,” Prigmore continues.

For CIOs, the key concerns are to increase utilisation and ensure business value, saving money and generating return-on-investment (ROI) in order to justify the cost. As a result, many enterprise-level IT departments are not only turning to ILM, but are also deploying intelligent storage, not in the array or at the host level, but in the fabric of the network.

“45% of the respondents believe it is not possible to have an effective tiered storage architecture without intelligent networks. Similarly, 40% believe that an effective ILM strategy can only be implemented via intelligent storage networks,” says Prigmore.

Network-based intelligence effectively taps business needs, offering ease of management and integration. Over the next 36 months, vendors will step up their roll out of such solutions. ||**|||~|Kaurin-Body.jpg|~|Kaurin: By not outsourcing, ING DiBa can deliver and guarantee its own services.|~|The third and final area of consideration for companies in their move to ILM is that of storage security. As vendors such as NetApp, Symantec and Veritas begin to acknowledge the overlap between information security and storage, 63% of CIOs are attempting to improve policies and develop best practices.

According to ESG, 49% of CIOs are aware of the growing security risks and are adding new features to their existing solutions. Many are reviewing their off-site tape storage policies, accelerating deployment or evaluation of data encryption technologies and conducting security-focused audits of their data protection processes.

The EMEA region is quick to recognise the need for storage security and although back-up is an ongoing problem for enterprises, CIOs are beginning to challenge their providers. “Legislation such as Basel II and the recent wave of incidents involving organisations having their back-up tapes lost or stolen, have changed many organisations’ approaches to security as it pertains to the data protection process,” says Prigmore.

One such organisation is the ING Group, a global financial services provider from the Netherlands with over 60 million customers in more than 50 countries.

For ING DiBa, the retail only e-banking arm of the company, cost awareness drives business process improvements as it builds its cost base slowly, in line with its long-term strategies.

“In the past we have implemented storage area network (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) infrastructure solutions and delivered document management systems (DMS) to our centralised data centres in Hanover and Frankfurt. We do not outsource, so this means that we can deliver and guarantee our own services,” explains Zeljko Kaurin, director of IT operations at ING DiBa.

Today, the bank has a total of 400 servers, combined with SAN and NAS solutions and centralised back-up for every system, making the infrastructure easier to manage. The new problem was that although the bank had enough storage, this was proving to be costly, especially as the business is still growing rapidly, gaining 800,000 new customers per year.

“We deliver a relatively complex product that generates huge volumes of documentation. For example, as we say, ‘before you get a loan you have to provide evidence to prove that you don’t need one’. We needed a solution to manage all this, and turned to ILM,” explains Kaurin. The bank deployed a Symmetrix DMX to manage its internet banking and a Clariion CX for application testing and development.

ING DiBa organises its data depending on the required speed of availability and chooses the most cost effective possibility of storage accordingly. In order to customise the solutions, the bank worked with its different business departments to get an overview of the criticality of the data.

“Individual scope is important, although if you ask seven people, you get eight answers. Business departments understand things in terms of their quarterly budget: They want quality and availability at a low cost, so they are happy to supply the classifications,” he explains.||**|||~|Prigmore-Body.jpg|~|Prigmore: Legislation such as Basel II has changed many organisations’ approaches to security as it pertains to the data protection process.|~|For ING DiBa, consultation with vendors is critical in realising the benefits of an ILM strategy. By providing consulting services, vendors like EMC are tapping into this demand, offering expertise on best practices that enable effective data movement, storage asset utilisation and risk management.

Customers are now seeking to optimise their information infrastructure and transform it into a strategic business asset, according to Derrell James, senior vice president of technology solutions for EMC. “By assisting with information classification and policy-based management, architecture and consolidation, storage management optimisation and information protection, we can help customers address and align business needs to technology capabilities,” he says.

Furthermore, The Financial Times turned to EMC Consulting to unlock the full potential of its IT infrastructure and storage investments. The newspaper organisation needed to gain better control of its IT infrastructure costs.

With 24TB of data in a Sun/Unix/Windows environment, the company’s storage management was decentralised and unco-ordinated. The company’s new CIO was under pressure to cut costs by 20% but still grow the business. “We found many areas within our storage infrastructure that could be refined to deliver significant business benefits and cost savings,” explains Chris Hunter, head of services delivery at the Financial Times.

The organisation created a scaleable ITIL-based (IT information library) storage management framework, laying down policies and procedures along with key performance indicators and tracking. The technology updates delivered cost savings and service improvement, and the company was able to effectively augment and deploy best practices.

“[The consulting services] provided us with the expertise to manage the infrastructure moving forward and helped remove a lot pain from the Financial Times’ IT infrastructure,” Hunter enthuses.||**||

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