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Data management, the next major vendor battleground

Bits & Bytes: Storage expert Randy Kerns explores the importance of lifecycle data management and why vendors need to deliver a timely and effective solution.

Lifecycle data management, no matter what it's called, is seen as the next major battleground for vendors to provide solutions to customers that can drive serious and long-term revenue. There has been great activity in this area with many start-up companies and major, established vendors with efforts in progress.

The importance of lifecycle data management is understood by most people. It represents a major opportunity to provide policy-based automation for data management that will allow companies to manage more data and address the growth of data requirements. A merger of traditional IT data and untraditional reference information is also occurring enabled by less expensive disk storage that needs lifecycle management to avoid overwhelming administrative costs.

One of the most difficult parts of lifecycle data management is tying the data to the application. Only by understanding the value of the data from the application (or business process) standpoint can the data be moved to appropriate classes of storage at a time that makes sense for the business process. Without that knowledge, the business process may not get the effective automation of data management promised. Worse, it could result in application delays and certainly more administrative effort.

Delivery of solutions is important to vendors. If they are late, they may miss the key customers, they may be perceived as laggards or having a deficient product and they may have to lower their price to enter the market that would greatly affect their profits. To that end, making a key acquisition for a product or establishing a partnership to bring another's product into the market under your umbrella is a path to get to market quickly. Once a customer purchases a lifecycle management solution, he is unlikely to make another change for seven to ten years. This is a major investment not only for the initial cost but for the ongoing maintenance charges and for the operational changes necessary.

The acquisition of Documentum by EMC is recognition by EMC that to deliver an effective lifecycle management solution, a tie-in to the application is necessary. Along those same lines, Hitachi Data Systems formed a partnership with AppIQ and IXOS to deliver solutions that have application awareness. It is very important to understand that without the application information, a purported lifecycle data management solution may be a warmed-over hierarchical storage management offering.

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