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
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
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 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
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.
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 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."
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
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
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
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 sensethe 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
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
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 email@example.com