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HP weighs in on Information Lifecycle Management strategy

HP is betting it can tackle your archiving requirements through its newly announced Information Lifecycle Management initiative. The concept revolves around managing data and its placement on different storage media, from "creation to deletion."

Not to be outdone by competitors such as EMC Corp. and Veritas Software Corp., Hewlett Packard Co. weighed in on Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) Wednesday, including what it can do today, and its roadmap going forward.

The concept of ILM revolves around managing data and its placement on different storage media, from birth to death, as it were, or "creation to deletion," says Rusty Smith, HP director of ILM. ILM aims to house data on the most appropriate media for its age and importance, and from a technology standpoint, includes components such as archival, searching, hierarchical storage management, setting policies and automation.

In the short term, says, HP's role will be to integrate and test existing solutions, resell software, and provide professional services. Initially, it will focus on a few key verticals, including healthcare and financial services.

In practical terms, can HP do in terms of ILM today? "We can help you with the retention issue," says Smith, which he admits is "the easy part." The hard part is "recalling the data you've archived."

But HP has big plans. For one thing, it will address the issue of long-term data retention, and how you migrate data between different storage media, and "between different hardware generations." It is also working on establishing a framework for setting policies and automating data movement of the "huge, massive data stores" that are likely to come out of an ILM strategy. Finally, HP plans on providing "tools that allow you to do robust search and retrieval across applications."

When is all this going to happen? Don't hold your breath. Elements of the core architecture – one that spans disk, optical, and tape --, are coming together through HP partner PERSIST, but the remaining components will be developed over the "coming year," Smith optimistically states.

The fact that HP is at least thinking about the issue is a comfort to Rick Allen, service line director of information systems operations at Gwinnett Health Systems, a healthcare provider in Atlanta, GA. An HP customer, Allen has seen the SAN system connected to his medical imaging application servers grow from 1TB useable a year ago, to 8TB today, and is anticipating at least 11TB annual growth. And in order to meet a service level agreement with Gwinnett physicians for sub-10 second image retrieval time, Allen's group has capitulated and is moving all its images to spinning disk. For the time being, this is the "cheapest and easiest solution," he says, but he does anticipate floor space issues, management issues, power and cooling issues… in short "cost issues."

A better solution would begin to look like the mainframe HSM system he worked with at his previous employer, in the financial sector, but unfortunately, "there's nothing like this in the midrange space."

Existing HP ILM partners include Avamar Technologies, CommVault Systems, Ixos Software AG, KVS Inc., MiraPoint Inc., PERSIST Technologies, Inc., and QStar Technologies, Inc. Partners are an integral part of HP's ILM strategy, says Smith. "We don't feel we have to go out there and acquire everything, we know how to partner," adding, "we don't have to buy a Legato," a reference to EMC's recent acquisition of the backup and HSM vendor, of which HP is incidentally is a reseller.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail: Alexandra Barrett, Storage Magazine Trends Editor

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