Eventually, fulfilling the ILM vision may require standards as well. SNIA’s Data Management Forum is in the early stages of crafting an ILM model, but most experts agree that ILM standards are many years away (see “SNIA works toward ILM standards”).
Forget the vision
The reality may be that enterprise ILM is too huge a project for many companies to take on. “ILM has expanded to mean everything in storage hardware, software, and services,” Jeremy Burton of Veritas says. “Customers don’t know where to start because ILM sounds like some kind of ERP project that will grow out of control and take 10 years.”
One way companies can cope is to stop worrying about the vision. Instead, start with the areas that are giving you the most pain. For many organizations, e-mail is a major source of pain and a great place to start, particularly with its compliance challenges. Others may find that ERP or CRM data hurt the most.
Wherever the pain is, the first step is a careful process of information discovery, analysis, and classification. Enterprise Strategy Group’s Hurley recommends taking advantage of SRM (storage resource management) applications. “They’ll tell you quickly what you can get rid of and what’s taking up the most data, and you’ll be able to see access patterns clearly,” she says. “You’ll probably be surprised at what you find.”
The result of this analysis should be a system that puts your information into categories based on performance, protection, and retention requirements during its life cycle. Then, based on the storage needs identified by each classification, decide on a series of storage tiers, each with its own appropriate performance, availability, and protection service levels. Finally, investigate policy-based automated data-moving solutions, such as those from EMC, HP, Veritas, and others, which address your requirements.
Many companies start ILM with one application or department, or to solve a particular problem, such as compliance. The key is to get familiar with the process and see what it can do for your organization. Then you can argue about the ILM vision over lunch.
Read more about storage in InfoWorld's Storage Channel.