What's holding up ILM?


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Information classification and management (ICM) represents an emerging class of tools to address information lifecycle management's data classification needs. The tools are rules-driven and use proprietary algorithms to handle such functions as search, discovery, classification and indexing. They use any existing meta data tags attached to the data and classification taxonomies specified by the company. Some tools include a database and also offer data movement capabilities.

Setting data requirements
Another obstacle to implementing an effective ILM storage strategy is the issue of data requirements. "You need to translate the data's [storage] requirements into policies a computer can act upon," explains Foskett. The requirements specify such things as how data should be protected or how accessible it needs to be and for how long. These requirements should be put into the meta data that accompanies the data. Compounding this situation is the issue that "users don't know what the requirements should be," he adds. Most users want their data to be immediately accessible forever and at the highest levels of performance and security.

"We're just starting to think about setting data requirements," says Rhyme. "We need to identify the data owners and they have to make decisions about the data, [such as] the kind of protection or retention it needs." This will involve people at the highest levels of the company. "Company-wide decisions will have to be made about some of the data, like e-mail. Our vice president recognizes [that the decision] can't be driven by storage," he adds.

Today's ILM enablers, such as tiered storage, hierarchical storage management, e-mail archiving and even content-addressed storage (CAS), don't resolve these issues. "Companies are only starting to address things with tiered storage, classification and indexing; the user needs and requirements part hasn't been addressed at all," says Anne MacFarland, director of enterprise architectures and infrastructure solutions at The Clipper Group Inc., Wellesley, MA.

Despite the obstacles, some companies report that they're doing ILM. "But it is more like hierarchical storage management than real, dynamic tracking and movement of data. And they're pretty much using homegrown tools," says Robert L. Stevenson, managing director, storage practice at TheInfoPro Inc., a New York City-based research firm.

This was first published in July 2006

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