ILM: What's your information worth?
Keeping a lid on overflowing storage costs is a key agenda
for today's CIO. Organizations are using ILM to balance the cost of managing
and storing information with the changing value of information over time. by
There's so much being written about Information Lifecycle Management these
days, that many of us have a fairly decent understanding of what it's supposed
to do. But almost everybody we spoke to had a definition of his own for ILM.
Some feel it is just old wine in a new bottle. Others believe that it is a new
concept, one that is starting to gain momentum in India. The need to classify
data on the basis of criticality and then move it from expensive to inexpensive
storage has assumed immense significance for Indian enterprises.
Ashish Gupta, sales manager - Indian subcontinent, BakBone Software says, "
ILM is a concept that needs to be practiced in the enterprise to ensure effective
management, protection and recovery of data."
For BFSI, ILM is nothing new. It has been part of banking policy for a long
time. "ILM is storage of information in a format that can be used at a
later stage for regulatory or statutory requirements," says S.R. Balasubramanian,
vice-president - IT of HDFC Bank.
A cornerstone of the ILM concept is understanding the value of data. Arun Rao,
National Manager, Storage Business, CA India says, "In any business, the
importance and relevance of data fluctuates rapidly. As a guideline, it is estimated
that 90 percent of data stored on a disk is never or seldom accessed after 90
days. An ILM strategy recognizes that not all data is created equal, and as
it moves through its life cycle, it must be managed and stored on different
levels and on increasingly cost-efficient technologies."
That said, the value of data doesn't always decrement over time. Sometimes the
opposite happens. Shailesh Agarwal country manager-Storage, IBM India says,
"Over the lifetime of data the value of data may go up or down. For instance,
an oil company explores a patch and obtains seismic data. Twenty years later
that patch may become economically viable."
"The fundamental of ILM is tiered storage. The goal is to provide the lowest
TCO for information as it moves through its lifecycle, from creation to archival,"
says Manoj Chugh, president EMC India & SAARC.
Regulatory issues have compelled organizations to go in for data archiving.
This is a key driver of ILM adoption in India. Although there are no regulations
as such for Indian companies, there are guidelines. Indian banks have to adhere
to RBI guidelines. Also international regulations have had their influence on
Indian companies and on MNCs having operations in India.
Wipro Technologies adheres to the Sarabanes-Oxley Act and HIPAA regulations
while dealing with its overseas customers. Ramapriya H, consultant for Computing
Infrastructure, Wipro Technologies says, "As part of our data retention
policy three months of data is stored on disk after which it is shifted to tape.
For e-mail messages containing large attachments, we store the attachment separately
as it helps in speedy retrieval when only the text of the e-mail is required
Anil Valluri, Director - Systems Engineering, Sun Microsystems says, "We
will actively work to educate Indian customers on the Sarabanes-Oxley Act which
mandates that all companies dealing with US customers have to to preserve their
data for at least five years."
Deploying ILM requires the identification and segregation of mission critical
data. This process broadly depends upon the complexity of systems running in
an organization and the complexity of data generated on a daily basis. A lot
of planning precedes any ILM implementation and you need experts as various
products and technologies are involved.
For formulating an ILM policy, the first step is to understand the storage processes
running within an organization. This requires a storage audit by an external
team. "For defining ILM policy external consultants have to conduct a storage
audit after due consultation with different departments," says Subash Baliga,
Business Manager, Apara Enterprise Solutions.
SATA, magneto-optical disk and tape are the storage mediums of choice for ILM.
"It is better to have this done by vendors or specialists as these are
new technologies. In-house skills may not always be available in the BFSI industry
as its core business is not IT," says Balasubramanian, HDFC Bank.
Benefits of ILM
Daya Prakash, Project Manager (LG Electronics India - ERP & e-business),
LG Soft India Pvt Ltd says, "ILM ensures that all critical information
is available and the sensitive information is intact. It helps consolidate hardware
and helps in maintaining the overall cost of expenditure on storage." ILM
ensures that the reference information is available and can be rapidly retrieved.
Active archival can transform unstructured data into a searchable database.
"Meeting statutory or regulatory requirements for historical access of
reports or transactions in a less expensive manner is the key benefit of ILM.
ILM provides a structured way of handling huge masses of data and makes it available
conveniently. This should be process driven and independent of people,"
says Balasubramanian, HDFC Bank.
Agendra Kumar, country manager, Veritas Software, says, "It is estimated
that 90 percent of data stored on disk is seldom or never accessed after 90
days. An ILM strategy recognizes that not all data is created equal, and that
as it moves through its lifecycle, it must be managed and stored at different
levels on increasingly cost-efficient technologies."
ROI considerations are leading companies to tiered storage externally and internally.
An enterprise may have several applications such as data warehousing, billing
and testing & development. Today it has to put testing & development
onto the same infrastructure as billing. However, unlike billing, testing &
development isn't mission critical. Enterprises should be able to move this
sort of non-critical application to secondary systems. Once testing and development
is done, they should be able to move the tested application to tier I storage.
Data should move seamlessly between tier II and tier I storage. All this is
facilitated by ILM.
Mike Sparkes, Product Marketing Manager, APAC, Quantum says, "New reporting
and storage requirements driven by legislation place extra pressure on storage
systems and on IT managers. Often the cost of storing extra data can be swamped
by the cost of managing and retrieving it in a reasonable time. Proper ILM implementations
should be able to keep track of different categories of data and ease the effort
Verticals adopting ILM
ILM will be driven by those set-ups that have already generated enormous data
sets that need to be stored and categorized according to their criticality.
BFSI, telecom, healthcare and BPO are all industry segments that fall into this
category. "Different verticals have
different requirements," says Balasubramanian of HDFC Bank adding, "Presently
we are using a COLD (Computer Output to Laser Disk) solution." The bank
is also evaluating ILM solutions. Indian BFSI and healthcare organizations are
going in for e-mail archiving in a big way. The Sarabanes-Oxley Act mandates
that e-mail and instant messages must be archived for five years. This will
be a major driver for ILM adoption in India.
In the case of manufacturing, it'll be a different story. "Manufacturing
companies use CAD/CAM tools for designing products. "That data is managed
using PLM which is essentially ILM for manufacturing," says Agarwal of
Is it for real?
There will be substantial ILM implementations in the next two years. To start
with, it will be large enterprises that take the plunge. Naveen Mishra, Senior
Analyst for Computing Products Research Group at IDC India says, "The adoption
of ILM is happening in bits and pieces in India. We expect to see increasing
awareness about ILM amongst Indian enterprises in 2004."
V Vivekanand, Business Development Manager Hitachi Data Systems says, "Indian
enterprises which have to comply to US regulations and which are listed in the
US will go in for ILM in a big way. An enterprise in telecom or banking needs
to preserve its data for eight to ten years. Companies have started archiving
data, especially e-mail." HDS is in the process of implementing its data
life cycle solutions in four enterprises from the BFSI and software services
"ILM is a reality with more and more stringent regulatory and statutory
requirements are outlined. It is also important in view of the large data volumes
generated by various industries," concludes Balasubramanian of HDFC Bank.
"Even mid-sized companies have started implementing ILM in innovative ways.
You can do it with sub-$100,000 budgets. ILM is a strategy, not a product,"
All a company has to do to reap the benefits of ILM is implement three tiers
of storage and install software to move data from tier to tier and manage the
Identification of critical data and segregating it on a priority basis is complex
work that may require huge investments involving a thorough audit of storage
assets and re-engineering of storage systems to streamline ILM adoption across
Abhinav Singh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vendors Product Features
EMC ANS (Automated A solution for companies that
use Microsoft Exchange.
Network Storage) EMC has worked closely with the
Microsoft Exchange team to develop automated back-up capabilities that
integrate with Exchange 2000 Server APIs to make it more storage-aware.
Sun Microsystems Infinite mail box It is offered
to Lotus customers aiming to providestorage solution. unlimited e-mail
storage to Notes users.
HDS Message Archive. It lets companies retain an
unalterable archive of e-mail and instant messages.
- "ILM ensures that critical information is
available and that sensitive information stays intact," says, Prakash,
LG Soft (manages LGEIL's IT set-up).
- "ILM is a reality with more stringent regulatory
and statutory requirements being outlined," says SR Balasubramanian
of HDFC Bank.
- "ILM has been part of our banking environment
ever since the inception of our bank,' says Sanjay Sharma, Head IT,