Lack of ILM standards sees vendors develop their own frameworks

Four years after the development of the concept of Information Lifecycle Management, adoption of the model remains slow.

Paul Shaw, ILM business development manager at HP, feels the honeymoon is over - customers no longer view ILM as the "holy grail" vendors promised it to be.

"The uptake for Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) has been slow - certainly slower than the market expected," he said.

The reticence to adopt ILM practices is due in part to the lack of industry standardization for both processes and technology.

"There is lots of talk in the industry around governance, compliance, legislation [and] the need for data management frameworks, but best practice details have yet to emerge."

The lack of industry standardization has meant ILM innovators such as HP have had to develop frameworks of their own.

"At HP we've actually taken some of the features of ITIL around process maturity. And we're using ITIL to build customers a data optimization scorecard," he said.

HP hopes to jumpstart market adoption of ILM practices with these frameworks.

"One of the ways that we're trying to move the market is by saying, 'look, APRA [and] public sector ombudsmen may not have a framework'," he said.

"But we have industry frameworks using Storage Networking and Industry Association [SNIA] and ITIL-based best practices to help control the issues at the storage and data layer and then realize the benefits that can be achieved."

According to Shaw, another reason ILM take-up has been slower than expected is that organizations often focus too intently on technology.

"I'm not convinced that customers truly understand the nature of the business problem when they implement a technology solution," he said.

"There's a disconnect between what the technology can offer and what the business needs, so ILM is at risk of having a black cloud following it because customers are having a negative experience."

HP, on the other hand, is much more focused on processes and services than technology solutions.

"Some of the services out there are focused on giving you a bit of an understanding and then moving straight on to the technology solution," Shaw said.

"But we're really focusing on giving you an understanding of not just your data, but also your infrastructure, your applications and most importantly your business requirements."

HP's ILM marketing specialist Joseph Byrnes says that before considering adopting technology solutions, executives must gain a thorough understanding of their business needs, namely governance; productivity [and] efficiency.

The ideal ILM solution will differ greatly depending on the priority and relative strength of these needs.

According to Shaw there is also a clamour for standardization between ILM technologies.

The most prominent example is SNIA's XAM framework for long term archival applications.

"Today, multiple appliances exist and the APIs are proprietary," he said.

"But the future with SNIA's XAM protocol would be a standardized API for writing data for long-term archival. I think that will change the game a bit when it gets released."

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