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Issue of September 2004 
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Market View

Choosing an ILM Solution

ILM is not simply about products; it's more about policies and procedures. So the ideal solution provider would be one who has a clear understanding of the ILM concept and also understands your business well. Here's a look at what the solution provider market has to offer. by Soutiman Das Gupta

Let's say you're looking for vendors and solution providers in the Indian market who offer solutions in the Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) space. You'll find plenty of vendors to choose from. However, most of them offer cutting-edge hardware with capacities in multiple Terabytes, and support a range of storage protocols such as fiber channels, IP, iSCSI, and FAS. Their storage management software also claim to work across heterogeneous environments and promise ease of use.

So how do you know what's right for you?

Since ILM is not simply about products, it isn't enough for the vendor or service provider to manufacture the best hardware and software. ILM is about strategies and concepts, so the provider should, at the outset, have a clear idea about the scope, functions, and benefits of the strategy.

The ideal solution provider, therefore, is one that understands your business well, and is able to align your business' needs to ILM strategy.

A Look at the Market

There are as many definitions of ILM as there are vendors. So, to get a clearer picture, let's listen to what some vendors and solution providers have to say about ILM strategies and solutions, and what they think companies should do to get better value from their storage infrastructure.

ILM - a New Concept?

Most solution providers agree that the concept of ILM has been around for a long time, although in a fragmented way. This is because enterprises have always been using management strategies such as backup, retrieval, archiving, and proactive management in their storage networks.

"With the increase in ICT, the phenomenal growth of data and information has led to the actual birth of the ILM concept," says Patrick Lim, Vice President of Solutions Sales, Hitachi Data Systems, Asia Pacific and International Americas (APIA).

HP

Avijit Basu, Country Sales Manager, Network Storage Solutions of HP India feels that it is essential for CIOs to evolve their storage infrastructures because technology and business environments are getting more complex with the addition of new business areas, locations, personnel, and resources.

Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems feels that the principle behind ILM is to seamlessly and automatically migrate information to less costly media, based on data relevance, via policies. Ramanujam, General Manager, Data Management & Storage,

Sun Microsystems India says, “Companies either put all their data on a highly expensive storage device or on a less expensive storage system. ILM recognizes the fact that the value of data can change over time, and that a customer may install different tiers of storage, including both high-performance and low-cost storage," he explains.

Network Appliance

According to Network Appliance, the first step to addressing ILM effectively requires defining the types of data in a company's environment. Sandeep Dutta, Director, Strategic Partnerships & Marketing, agrees his company's views are similar to Sun's in that data storage has typically been a 'one-size-fits-all' approach that handled storage, replication, backup, and data destruction in exactly the same way.

"Traditional data storage solutions do not differentiate between data types. The costs of managing an ever-increasing amount of data, combined with the requirements imposed by new regulatory compliance regulations, have made some degree of ILM mandatory," he says.

Veritas software

Veritas believes that regulatory concerns constitute one of the driving forces behind the adoption of ILM. Explains Country Manager Agendra Kumar, "Indian CIOs are adopting ILM because it allows them to recognize benefits beyond the ability to meet document storage and retrieval requirements set forth in various international or country-specific regulations."

Computer Associates

According to Computer Associates (CA), Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC) have gained much momentum over the past two years, resulting in a number of assessments but few implementations. Says Rajendra Dhavale, Director, Consulting, CA India, "It's often considered prohibitively expensive to implement full-blown DR/ BC plans, due to the quantity of data that IT believes needs to be replicated. The costs of DR/BC can be greatly reduced with the proper classification of data. This definitely calls for effective implementation of ILM-based processes and policies."

EMC and Legato Software

“Two years ago, not many enterprises knew about ILM, and the vendor had to explain what it was. But today, CIOs are convinced about this technology, and the immense benefits it offers in terms of effective storage management," says Manoj Chugh, President, EMC, India and SAARC.

Legato Software, a division of EMC, believes that before an organization undertakes an ILM approach it must understand how data is used and its value to the organization at any point in time, based on the business requirements for a specific application. "This helps an organization uncover the business value related to the combination of data and applications," explains PK Gupta, Director, Strategic Development, Asia-Pacific, Japan and Korea, Legato Software.

Hitachi Data Systems

Regarding the cost of managing storage, Hitachi Data Systems feels that even though the cost of storage per byte has come down; the cost of managing data has spiraled upwards. "Managing data through its entire lifecycle has become a crucial factor in keeping storage costs down. This is the primary reason why ILM has found great acceptability as a concept with enterprises," says Patrick Lim.

Point of View

VSNL in India runs five nationwide data centers, and manages between 80 and 100 TBs of storage. It uses a heterogeneous mix of hardware and software products from various vendors. Hari Nair, Technical Director, VSNL India, talks about enterprise storage strategies and the scope of outsourcing storage infrastructure.

Companies today don't want to invest in hardware alone. They want an optimal solution. That's where outsourced managed storage solutions make a lot of sense—the solution complements the business and becomes smart enough to be completely managed from remote infrastructure, along with DR facilities.

All companies today want stored data, but no one knows which part of the data is relevant. Most of it is regulatory-driven, and people have to store data for many months, driving the need for more storage space. But overall, there's a need to use storage systems that can also provide added value.

Solutions provider

Businesses ideally want the solution from a single service provider. When outsourcing, they look for standards or industry wise-definitions, which can segregate the good offerings from the bad. Many CIOs have realized that management of enterprise storage has become a very complex procedure; and one that's best left to an external service provider.

Disaster Recovery (DR)

CIOs are usually not keen to put a lot of money into DR activity. DR is mostly regulatory-driven and not on enterprises' wish list. Companies wish to operate on lean budgets, so service providers have the scope to offer services such as storage-to-storage replication and remote management.

CIOs can do better

A common mistake that CIOs make when they build their storage infrastructure is regarding the sizing of the solution. Generally we see that storage boxes are too much or too little, and the process of migration of information is always difficult. Further, moving from one infrastructure to another involves some kind of downtime, due to activities such as replication and backup.

A company sometimes has a small infrastructure that gets saturated in no time at all. It then invests in a very large setup and the CIO ends up with redundant technology in about a year, since storage technology is evolving and maturing. For customers today, storage is not yet mature enough for them to want to work out of a shared infrastructure - they would rather be given an independent storage box.

Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at soutimand@networkmagazineindia.com

 
     
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