Smarter storage now
The two principal drivers behind ILM are exploding storage management costs and compliance. Which one is more important depends on whom you talk to. “Many people assume it’s compliance that’s driving ILM,” Hurley says, “but only two out of 10 users I interviewed cite compliance as the main reason they are interested. Most of the rest cite cost savings.”
Take the North Bronx Healthcare Network, which oversees several New York City public health facilities. “We did some analysis and found that 84 percent of our data is stagnant,” CIO Daniel Morreale says. “So using EMC’s DiskXtender software, we applied some business rules to move the data automatically from our EMC Symmetrix DMX [Direct Matrix Architecture] storage to a less-expensive NAS, if [the data] isn’t used for six months, and then to our EMC Centera CAS [Content Addressed Storage] fixed content storage six months after that.”
All of the files, however, are easily accessible to users. “The difference between accessing files on the SAN and NAS is imperceptible,” Morreale says, “and getting files off the CAS takes maybe an extra one and a half seconds.” Morreale says this tiered storage model lowered his storage and staffing costs significantly and enhanced business continuity, in addition to aiding HIPAA compliance.
Michael Howard, CEO of ILM vendor OuterBay, says compliance issues account for much of his business. For example, when Tektronix consolidated its Oracle systems from 27 countries to two locations in Beaverton, Ore., its storage requirements exploded and compliance issues became much more complex.
“In the U.S., a customer invoice has to be retained for five years,” says Lois Hughes, senior manager of business application systems at Tekronix. “But in Italy it’s 12 years and in China, 15.”
Tektronix deployed OuterBay’s Live Archive to move transactions from its production environment to a less expensive read-only archive storage tier after two years. Different levels of protection are applied to each tier, because stable data doesn’t need to be replicated or backed up as often as live data. And data on the archive tier is readily available to users. “It looks just like the production environment; no user training required,” Hughes says.
The next step will be to move data after six years to a third tier: OuterBay’s Encapsulated Archive, a self-describing XML archive store. “This brings us from the huge, demanding Oracle application environment to compact, Oracle-release-independent XML storage. We can still run queries and reports. SQL code identifies the owner of the transaction, so the system will know that if the legal owner is Tektronix Germany, it should purge after 10 years and one day.”
Frank Harbist, vice president and general manager of storage software and ILM at Hewlett-Packard, sees yet a third driver: information leverage. “We see more and more companies wanting to use information as a way to help run their business more effectively,” he says. “They want more of it accessible so they can take advantage of data mining, business decision support, and analytics tools to gain competitive advantage.”