We began the week by describing HP's strategic direction for information lifecycle management. (See: http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php?id=387681310) Today, a brief history and then we look at the company's present ILM offering.
HP's first significant move towards staking out an ILM position was the November 2003 acquisition of Persist Technologies, which gave the company technology for indexing, searching, retrieving and moving of structured and unstructured data. At that point, HP could be heard describing ILM as a mix of process and products, with the mix being about 80-20 in favor of process.
This was something of a platitude of course. After all, unless the anarchists have taken control over the IT room, can you think of anything we do that is not a mix of process and product?
In fact, every vendor mentions the process-product mix, and one thing is for sure - the more products they have to sell, the more the blend of process and product seems to tilt in favor of the product side. Move forward to March 2005, and I am willing to bet that HP will now describe the mix as being closer to 50-50.
An important part of HP's ILM approach is its Reference Information Storage System (RISS), an archive and retrieval solution for storing, indexing and retrieving information. Released about a year ago, much of the technology acquired from Persist was baked in to the product.
RISS is a self-contained unit that allows managers to create policies for automating compliance to both regulations and service levels. (For those of you beginning to think about grids and who already know a bit about the RISS - yes, the RISS architecture is for all intents and purposes a grid cell, with its own storage, computing power, and communications capability.)
The first release of RISS was aimed at active archiving of e-mail and Microsoft Office documents. Now that HP has released its open Application Programming Interface (API), the product is being enhanced with third-party applications from 22 software partners. Additionally, the base price of the device has been nearly chopped in half, the storage capacity has more than doubled to 850G bytes, and active archiving now supports Lotus Domino in addition to Microsoft Exchange.
HP has also released File System Extender v3.1, a new offering for both Linux and Windows that automatically migrates data between tiers of storage depending on current needs, helping ensure that information is in the right place at the right time.
On the service side, HP is building an ILM consulting practice, and now offers a set of pre-configured installation services to help customers convert their corporate data for use with the RISS.
HP's open API is sure to play well with software partners. As third-party support prove crucial to any vendor's ILM strategy, the ducks would now appear to be in a row to provide a mix of proprietary HP-branded solutions (the messaging software for Notes and Exchange, for example) and third-party solutions from leading providers (check HP's Web site for examples of some of these).
What then, is missing? Right now, the RISS does not support Web services and common Internet and network file systems, nor does it yet offer specialized support for a number of key vertical markets. Also, File System Extender does not as yet support HP-UX. HP expects to have all that fixed within four quarters.
HP will also have to supply a robust set of tools to match up its offerings with the needs of specific vertical markets. Expect those to come from independent software vendors.
I'll report on what other companies are doing as the information becomes available to me.