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ILM seems to be MIA, but why?

I don’t see the terms ILM or Data Lifecycle Management mentioned much anymore on the Interwebs. Odd that we have this many regulatory pressures, and the one thing that could actually save us some money, time and stress when dealing with those pressures hasn’t been seen in headlines for at least a year, maybe two.

Where did ILM go? Did it morph into something else? Based on all the coverage it was getting two years ago, you’d think we would have progressed to hardware-based products supporting ILM initiatives by now. Yet the storage hardware vendors, with the most noticeable exception being Compellent, still haven’t added ILM features to their hardware. Storage software vendors, like Veritas, IBM Tivoli, CommVault, et al., still offer ILM features for their software suites, but today it’s dedupe that has the spotlight. And I’m not so sure I see the reason why.

I understand the marketing behind dedupe: “Hard economic times are ahead, so save money and don’t buy as much disk.” But if you look at the sales figures from the leading storage vendors, they are all meeting their sales estimates, and in some cases exceeding those estimates by a good margin, so businesses apparently haven’t yet gotten into the whole “save money” or the “buy less” aspect of that marketing push.

Managing one’s data seems to me the better way to spend, if you know when to move it to cheap disk, commodity tape and through to destruction. It would free up capacity on fast expensive disk, and reduce the effort needed to satisfy policy pressures. I distinctly remember eons ago sitting in a conference hall and listening to Curtis Preston for the first time, and this topic was the thrust of his talk: Manage your data, figure out where it should live and put it there.

This message holds true now more than ever. Just think, three or four years ago, 250 GB drives were the largest SATA drives certified for storage arrays. Now, with 750 GB to 1 TB in each slot, we have even more of a need to know when the data was created and when it needs to be archived or destroyed. With SSDs rapidly making their way into storage arrays, data management and subsequent movement becomes a crucial cost saving tool.

The part about all this that baffles me the most is liability. You’d think that if you were going to be legally liable to either hold onto or destroy files or information, you’d probably want an automated, “people-resistant” system in place to handle all that. At another recent Techtarget event on DR, Jon Toigo talked about a data map and knowing how valuable your data is in order to best protect the most valuable data. Sounds like a straightforward, common-sense approach, but as far as I know only one vendor is doing it in hardware, and most of the software vendors have gone quiet with their marketing behind it.

The term Information Lifecycle Management conjures up thoughts of managed data, orderly storage environments, documented processes, and responsible governance for me. All these things I’ve seen brought up in blogs (some of my own included) and articles, expressed as concerns for businesses large and small. So why has ILM gone underground?

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You're on point Tory. I was glad to see the ILM movement come about because, for the most part, it mirrored what records managers have been espousing for the last 50 years. At the end of the day, managing the data is cheaper than not managing the data. My guess is that the IT world is giving up on it because for whatever reason, they did not/do not/don't want to understand how to, or they don't want to give in to something that's not their idea. If we, records managers and IT, collaborate, we serve our employers better. Period. If we don't, we collectively fail. Period.
Everything you've said in this article is absolutely correct; so why aren't commercial and government bodies adopting this tiered approach to storage? The main obstacle to ILM that I keep coming across in my discussions with customers is their inability to classify the data. the IT departments need the business users to give guidance and define an approach to data classification, but the business users aren't devoting the time to doing it. Without knowledge of what the data is and how it applies to the applications, the IT team can't create an ILM strategy.
HSM > ILM > Tiered Storage Same problem, different terms, same ineffective solution. The answer to the problem is not MORE buckets and tiers, but fewer. Administrators need a more efficient way to balance performance and capacity. Moving data around is also not the answer. Ask anyone in the storage business, and they generally highly prefer keeping data in one place. HSM, ILM, and Tiers make that very difficult. For more detail, please visit the Shedding Tiers post on
I've asked a few friends from the IT side (in security and in storage SMB's 100 to 500 users) about records managers and again the and the answers I got were they weren't currently a part of the IT process or mindset. I pointed them to both your comments and now they are actively seeking input from their records manager in creating a data map I'm curious to see what their take on the process is. Is this one of those things that is perceived as bing the "too big of a project"? I'd be curious to hear some suggestions as to how you approached this with your clients. I've involved marketing folks to help me craft a message that get the point across in a language the business not only understands, but with a message they are willing to accept a specific example is a destruction policy and how to classify a document for destruction starting with date last modified.
Gary, I haven't met many people who share your view on tiering, however I've had very interesting discussions on the matter with them. I always seem leave those discussions with more insight into the cons of tiering and I'd love to follow this up with you, I've posted to your blog here:
Great question. I think part of the answer is folks being seriously overtasked on a cross-departmental basis and having to think about "just get me an answer that doesn't take too much (time, thinking or resources)". Regardless of the benefit, if you're suffering from short attention span syndrome, anything that you cannot buy from a vendor is unlikely to get much of a look, unless you have a sponsor that feels the pain and recognizes it as a solution.