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Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I'm going out on a limb here to say it's time to bring back ILM (Information Lifecycle Management). After all, the idea of managing data throughout its lifecycle continues to make a great deal of sense, especially now that companies everywhere are going through massive IT transformations driven by today's tight economy and the increasing need to gain better control of escalating data.
The term fell from favor originally because all the over-hyped vendor promises came up empty. That doesn't mean the concept was flawed–though the products were. Stepping into the "wayback machine," I recall a presentation by Mark Lewis, who then was VP and GM of Compaq's Enterprise Storage Group. When he took the stage at an industry trade show to espouse the merits of this new ILM category, he energized the audience with the promise of an overarching strategy for effectively managing information throughout its useful life. EMC then applied enough marketing muscle to make ILM a household name, but as Tony Asaro described in a recent blog post on the big buzz around ILM, "the reality never matched the rhetoric." As he says, "the term ILM is rarely used these days and it is not going to open any doors for you."
Well, I think that's about to change. ILM is making a comeback. During recent travels abroad I came across a lot of ILM fans–especially in EMEA. The catch with the concept–and perhaps the reason for its initial false start–is it requires an extra layer of intelligence to move data effectively. This element was absent from the hardware-based ILM solutions that first were brought to market, so they ended up supplying tiered storage instead. As a result, people became disillusioned when none of the major ILM proponents delivered on the many promises they made.
Fortunately, next-generation, intelligent data management solutions now exist that might actually enable ILM to reach its full potential. So, it's time to start talking ILM again. Who knows, maybe now it really will open doors.
Last month, I went to South Africa and met with Paul Furber, who wrote an excellent article that highlighted an industry roundtable discussion on ILM. What I found most interesting is that companies around the world are coming full circle in determining what ILM means to them. They realize ILM isn't about storing data–it's more about finding and accessing data when needed and then disposing of it when the data no longer holds business value.
These folks don't think ILM is a dirty word, but rather an important piece of an overarching, enterprise data management strategy. Their goal is to optimize how data moves and flows, so they can create agile data management foundations that scale and adapt to ever-changing business and compliance needs.
This groundswell of support tells me ILM is still relevant and should be included in strategic planning, right along with virtualization, IT outsourcing and data center consolidation. We need to revitalize ILM and stop confusing the market with overlapping definitions and partial fixes to big data management problems. If we focus less on hype and more on the realities of what intelligent data management can do, then ILM has a shot at making it this time.
What's your take? Do you think ILM will make a comeback? Leave a comment here or drop me a line and we'll compare notes.
ILM never left, Dave. That's a storage industry centric perspective as if storage first brought ILM to the table a decade ago.
Managing information over a life cycle existed long before the storage industry began using the term, and it'll continue to persist regardless what terminology or focus the industry fancies at the moment.
The storage industry brings two immediate benefits to the table in the world of information management.
The first is a hard dollar ROI that was, frankly, less compelling before storage companies got involved. Information managers can now say look at this impact on storage and storage management beyond the usual business user productivity claims. We can now talk in terms of real money and real bottom line impact.
The second is a forward looking vision of how storage infrastructure can communicate and collaborate with the business application layer to deliver compliance, protection and preservation at the lowest possible cost.
ILM doesn't need to make a comeback. It never left. Storage managers need to step up their game and understand how the storage industry's perspective on ILM complements traditional business-level information management. And information management practitioners need to step up their game as well and begin working more closely with IT to learn about and leverage these complementary technologies.
Thanks for the great comment on my blog. I’ve been wrapped up in the storage world for almost 20 years and you know us storage guys... IT revolves around us.☺ I should have been clear in my suggestion that the TERM ILM make a comeback – and not the concept.
I agree with your points but am afraid the storage community has, for the most part, abandoned the idea behind "Information Lifecycle Management" the way it did "HSM". I’m proposing we bring it (back) out of the closet because, as you point out, "We can now talk in terms of real money and real bottom line impact" and "storage infrastructure can communicate and collaborate with the business application layer to deliver compliance, protection and preservation at the lowest possible cost." Perhaps now, the solutions that were promised so many years ago when ILM was all the rage, are available today for customers to reap the benefits. Maybe time does heal all wounds.
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