Feature: ILM slides into spotlight

Three letters will permeate through the halls of Storage Networking World this week: ILM.

ILM (information lifecycle management) will gain momentum in the form of new technologies next week from Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, and Advanced Digital Information (ADIC) at the Storage Networking World (SNW) show in Phoenix. Meanwhile, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) will kick off an initiative to standardize information lifecycle management, and Computer Associates International is brewing plans of its own for ILM.

ADIC will unveil version 2.3 of its StorNext Management Suite, which features an improved way to move data from FC (Fibre Channel)-based arrays to SATA (Serial ATA)-based systems.

Sun is working on an archiving platform that combines existing Sun technologies in a system that offers three tiers of storage: FC disk, SATA disk, and tape.

SGI will introduce InfiniteStorage Data Lifecycle Management (DLM) Server, which offers various tiers of storage and the means to automatically migrate data among those tiers.

Although the storage vendors consider ILM, at least in practice, to be about moving data to new mediums based on timeliness and relevance, SNIA and Computer Associates are each taking a different stance.

Computer Associates is looking to expand the vague term ILM, used today by storage vendors such as EMC, Network Appliance, and StorageTek to describe the services and software for managing data from introduction to death within today's storage systems.

"ILM represents a whole lot more than storage," said Anders Lofgren, vice president of BrightStor at CA.

Lofgren said CA is working to articulate its vision for ILM, but revealed that existing disciplines such as security, asset management, and knowledge of applications are other necessary obvious components. This thinking represents a major shift from today's view of ILM in which storage vendors have concentrated on how data can be automatically moved from one tier of storage to another based on the price of the storage media as the value of that data changes.

Michael Peterson, president of Strategic Research and founder of SNIA, agrees that ILM has to be defined beyond storage.

Serving as program director of SNIA's Data Management Forum (DMF), Peterson and his team will issue a white paper entitled "ILM: A Vision for the Future" this week at SNA.

Peterson explained that SNIA is articulating a broader definition of ILM and a goal that storage vendors can work toward.

"Vendors are only at the early steps of the evolution of ILM, not at the endpoint," Peterson said. "We're defining a profound vision that encompasses IT with a whole new methodology to deal with the datacenter to address complexity."

The DMF is also working on creating industry standards that define the various processes of ILM, such as how data is classified based on its value, then how it is moved to the most appropriate and cost-effective infrastructure.

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