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SNW '04: CTO panel tries to pin down ILM

With moderator Jon Toigo ready to pounce, a panel of CTOs dish out thoughts on ILM.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- "Welcome to the roast -- ahem -- panel today," joked industry bad boy Jon Toigo at the beginning of a discussion group with storage executives yesterday at Storage Networking World. Turns out he wasn't really joking. The panel covered a handful of subjects, but it was information lifecycle management (ILM) that provided the liveliest dialogue.

Known for his blunt, aggressive demeanor (and his sense of humor), Toigo grilled the five-person panel, often mocking them when they tried to dance around answers with marketing rhetoric.

But it wasn't a complete bullying session. Toigo provided an animated give and take on such subjects as how the vendors are providing for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and for compliance regulations. And then there was ILM.

"Do you sell ILM? Do you have an ILM 1.1 product?" Toigo asked, suggesting that ILM is still an idea not yet put into practice. All of the panelists stuck with the mantra that ILM is a process and that their products are components of ILM.

Hossein ZiaShakeri, vice president, advanced engineering and strategic alliances at Spectra Logic Corp., said he believes ILM is a "process created within your storage environment and the customer must make it efficient."

Mark Delsman, vice president of business strategy at Adaptec Inc., took it a step further, saying that moving data between tiers is the first step, but that "IT guys are moving the data and it needs to be automated."

Aloke Guha, CTO of Copan Systems, said that ILM is broader than just moving data to a cheaper platform. "It's about data integrity and having the best infrastructure in place so the customer can classify the data."

At this point, moderator Toigo cut in and said, "Isn't the vendor supposed to classify the data? It seems that the burden is on the customer to make ILM work."

Mike Feinberg, CTO, network storage solutions, Hewlett-Packard Co., admitted that vendors have to improve technologies to classify data. "The technologies have to be in place for there to be ILM. We're giving customers the tools, but we need to improve classification."

Karl Schubert, CTO of XIOTech Corp., said ILM is "a good concept, but is five to seven years away."

Getting vendors to speak about specific hardware and software was not so easy. At one point, two of the panelists could not remember the names of their company's replication products. "OK, so maybe these aren't the guys to be doing marketing pitches," Toigo said.

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