The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) at the end of last month detailed its vision of ILM (information lifecycle management), effectively leveling the playing field by providing vendors with a common blueprint from which to build solutions.
The definition states, "ILM is comprised of the policies, processes, practices, and tools used to align the business value of information with the most appropriate and cost-effective IT infrastructure from the time information is conceived through its final disposition."
The definition should cause no hardship to IT managers selling upper management on ILM, said Mike Peterson, one of the authors of the definition and an analyst at Strategic Research. "One key to the definition is that it doesn't define ILM as a specific product, and it is not about storage and data movement to a low-cost system."
Instead, ILM is a standards-based approach to automating datacenter operations based on business requirements and business processes, Peterson said. Having a baseline definition will allow IT to determine which products will work best for their information management process.
"This standard will help the industry move from talking about data to talking about the value of the data," said Dianne McAdam, an analyst at Data Mobility Group.
All major vendors, with the exception of Microsoft, supported the definition, although Peterson said Microsoft's support was forthcoming.
Indeed, vendors at last week's Storage Networking World conference in Orlando, where SNIA released its definition, were busy demonstrating their ILM strategies. EMC for instance, showed its as-yet-unannounced EMC Storage Router, which will perform storage-related operations such as data migration, a key technology in implementing ILM, said Mark Lewis, executive vice president of EMC Software.
IBM for its part, introduced ILM-related products with updates to its TotalStorage line. IBM Total Storage SAN Volume Controller Version 1.2.1, for instance, now supports diverse storage environments by attaching to EMC's Symmetrix DMX Series and Hewlett-Packard's Enterprise Virtual Arrays, as well as IBM's TotalStorage DS8000 and DS6000. The software also works with many storage arrays from Hitachi Data Systems.
Also announcing ILM-related products at the show was Asigra, a distributed backup and recovery company. Asigra BLM is its distributed software that distinguishes levels of protected data.
Storage Technology, better known as StorageTek last month acquired Storability -- a provider of enterprise storage resource management products -- to strengthen its ILM offerings.
Throughout the past year, vendors such as HP, Hitachi, and Sun Microsystems have offered products according to their own, albeit slightly varying, definitions of ILM.
A study by TheInfoPro of current and planned usage of 20 storage technologies showed disk-to-disk backup at the top, followed by ILM.
IT managers are interested in ILM for good reason. Data typically costs 45 cents to 55 cents per MB annually, according to analysts. Moving that to an appropriate platform can cut that cost by more than half.
"There are substantial cost savings to be realized by an ILM system," Strategic Research's Peterson said.