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Out on a LIM (Or Is It ILM?)
SNIA also handed out various awards over the course of the week. The prize for "Buzzword of the Show," though, would have to go to Information Lifecycle Management (ILM). Trumpeted loudest by EMC, vendors were falling over themselves to discuss the ILM capabilities of their various offerings.
"In the next three years we will see more change in the storage industry than in the past decade due to ILM," predicts Mark Lewis, executive vice president for open software at EMC. "Information Lifecycle Management will result in the optimal management of information throughout its life, from creation and use to archiving and disposal. It isn't just hype; it's a revolution."
Sounds great, but what exactly is it? ILM is the latest attempt to solve the problems caused by having hundreds of applications on dozens of platforms consuming terabytes of information on disk, and even larger volumes on tape. This complexity affords no easy way to match the value of specific information to the types of storage resources managing it.
Though varying significantly in its description from vendor to vendor, EMC grandly defines ILM as a strategy for proactive management of information that: is business-centric and policy-based; provides a single view into all information assets; spans all types of platforms; and aligns storage resources with the value of the data to the business at any given point in time.
"The ILM buzz is similar to that surrounding virtualization 18 months ago," says Duplessie. "It basically encompasses 'cradle to the grave' management of information, whereby you get the right information to the right device or media at the right time."
Sound a bit like Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM)? True. But HSM is single threaded, typically involves one large server or mainframe, and focuses on objective measures like access.
For example, if certain data hasn't been accessed in a specific time period, it is automatically moved to another type of media. ILM goes further with this same concept, taking it onto the network to cover the entire infrastructure and adding subjective as well as objective criteria.
New regulations, for instance, largely negate the old HSM time stamp criteria. Data that may not have been accessed for years may now have high value due to the potential penalties for not retaining it. Thus, subjective and legislation-based data categorization can be accomplished with ILM. And regardless of where the data resides, it can be managed and located from one console.
Of course, much of this is theoretical. Beyond the fanfare, EMC has a roadmap in place for achieving ILM but admits the strategy is still a work in progress. Duplessie estimates it will be at least 18 months before ILM moves beyond the hype and shows some merit in the real world.