Click for larger view.
How long will it take to achieve the full ILM vision? Experts only agree that it is at least a few years away. Missing from today’s ILM offerings is the enterprisewide, single-console ideal — tools that would allow an enterprise to classify all its information according to value, set up a single system of storage tiers, and apply migration and protection policies across it all using a single management tool. Much more common are point solutions, each with different emphases and capabilities.
For example, companies such as OuterBay and Princeton Softech concentrate on structured data found in Oracle databases, as well as CRM, ERP, and supply-chain-management systems. Other solutions from EMC/Documentum, HP, and Ixos target unstructured data such as files and images. E-mail archiving solutions from iLumin, Ixos, Veritas, and Zantaz focus almost solely on messaging. StorageTek has separate point solutions for structured data and e-mail. Various other point solutions are available from such vendors as Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Network Appliance, and Sun.
Second, most current solutions calling themselves ILM only move and archive data. Protection at each tier -- in the form of mirroring, replication, and backup -- is generally left to the storage manager for implement using other solutions. The long-term vision of ILM assumes that a management architecture will tie the two together and manage them as one, possibly as just another feature of an overall storage management platform.
For information awareness to truly become a reality, the applications that capture and use information will inevitably have to be involved as well. Currently, products such as EMC’s Xtender line and OuterBay’s Application Data Management suite act as a kind of application-aware middleware sitting between individual applications and storage, providing information awareness and policy-based data movement and disposal. Also, Oracle Database 10g provides some of its own data partitioning and storage tiering and management capabilities.
“There has to be a marriage between the storage and applications,” Hurley says. “Once I’ve [assigned a value to] my information, all the applications that will use, move, migrate, protect, and retain it should understand that valuation from the moment it’s created. It’s going to come from the vendors providing open APIs to work with each other and a level of integration such that policy engines understand each other.”
Legacy applications are often critical roadblocks to enterprisewide ILM. “We thought we could use our ILM solution to move information from our 12-year-old clinical information system to [EMC’s Centera] CAS,” Morreale says, “but in fact we can’t because the application doesn’t allow the freedom to move data dynamically.”
Metadata will also be a key provider of information awareness. “There are all sorts of things people will want to trap,” says Ken Steinhardt, director of technology analysis at EMC. “They’ll need multiple metadata views — not just how frequently something was accessed, but also tagging things that might be associated with a sensitive project with a 20-year retention requirement.”