Storage Group Hashes Out ILM Standards


With so many vendors pitching their own flavors of information lifecycle management (ILM), the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) this week is carving out a general definition of the process to help interested parties get started.

At the Storage Networking World 2004 show in Orlando, Fla., ILM will be defined as a roadmap around which companies can build systems that store data from its inception until it is ready to be disposed, according to Matt Brisse, SNIA board member and senior technology strategist for the office of CTO at Dell.

SNIA defines ILM as a schema "comprised of the policies, processes, practices, and tools used to align the business value of information with the most appropriate and cost effective IT infrastructure from the time information is conceived through its final disposition. Information is aligned with business requirements through management policies and service levels associated with applications, metadata, and data."

The definition helps customers craft a baseline template for ILM because, as Brisse said: "not every ILM solution is perfect for every customer. What may work for an Exxon or Mobile, may not work for a local accounting firm. We're trying to develop a definition that everyone can unite behind."

In the past year, EMC , HP , IBM and a slew of other vendors in the storage space have put forth their versions of ILM, and everyone differs to some degree. Having a baseline definition could help customers figure out what products may be best for their information management process.

In other news, Ray Dunn, board member of the SNIA and chairman of the Storage Management Forum, said the Storage Management Interoperability Specification has been approved by ANSI INCITS, the American National Standard for Information TechnologyStorage.

SNIA members will demonstrate remote management with SMI-S, a standard that allows software to manage disparate hardware systems from rival vendors. Some 120 products from leading vendors have passed muster with SMI-S in the past two years and will be on display at SNW.

Dunn told the remote demo in Orlando will access storage through the Internet from the group's interoperability lab in Colorado Springs, Colo. SNIA will take gear from the lab and host a hands-on lab for end-users.

"We'll be highlighting day-to-day activities end-users have to do like provisioning and creating zones and showing that a single management application can manage multiple heterogeneous arrays," Dunn said.

In other standards news, Brisse said the Common RAID Disk Data Format (DDF) specification has been approved by SNIA.

DDF cuts overhead costs by allowing a basic level of interoperability between different RAID vendors, which Brisse said is a common pain point among IT administrators.

"For example, is I have a RAID 5 solution on a ROMB [Raid on Mother Board], and I want to migrate that to a JBOD [Just a Bunch of Disks] solution using a RAID card, I can't do that because the data format on the drive itself could be different from RAID vendor to RAID vendor and most often is," Brisse told

This can result in administrators accidentally destroying crucial data, Brisse said. DDF had been submitted to INCITS for review on a fast track and DDF-compliant products are expected to appear in 2005.


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