ILM Initiatives Shouldnt Repeat Sins of the Past

Opinion: The narrow approach of the current generation of information lifecycle management products just prompts customers to make the same silly mistakes.

I have never been a big fan of ILM (information lifecycle management)—the term, not the concept. This is mostly because the concept is so broad but the term itself seems so limiting.

When people hear ILM they think information, which reminds them of data. They think of data and it reminds them of storage.

Next thing you know, ILM is a storage-centric solution. My problem with the term then is that information management is about much more than storage.

Every single ongoing IT-related project is ultimately has information management issues. Be it data warehousing, server consolidation, application integration, supply chain management, its all fundamentally about information management.

The problem with big concepts is we tend to approach them one piece at a time.

So if you are a former database guy like me you tend to only see the benefit of database archiving or subsetting. If you administer the corporate e-mail server and are being hounded about compliance or legal discovery issues, you tend to focus on the e-mail archive. If you are a storage administrator, you are focused on offloading data to cheaper drives.

/zimages/7/28571.gifClick here to read about Hewlett-Packards acquisition of ILM specialist OuterBay.

The list goes on and on. Each little interest group solves its niche issue in a vacuum until one day the many little problems we solved become the cause of some even larger problems.

Years later some bright person gets the idea that all of these small niche problems were actually the same problem.

This is an age-old issue, really. Some of us experienced this as distributed systems became more and more prevalent. We realized that the problem of having to maintain a number of point products to monitor and manage layers of infrastructure (such as the server/OS, database, network and applications) became harder to overcome than the original problem we were trying to solve.

The solution then was a unified management framework. The frameworks applied standards to handle messaging from the various monitoring agents and a common infrastructure to handle event management and more.

Software vendors like Computer Associates and BMC Software came out with these unifying frameworks, including UniCenter and Patrol, to address the larger overall problem of systems management.

Of course the problem was that most of the point product software that these software frameworks were suppose to integrate were not built from the ground up for that purpose.

Needless to say there was a great deal of pain that some organizations are still suffering when it comes to a seeing true ROI on a unified systems management approach.

The ILM issue, like systems management, is such a broad concept that it touches virtually every aspect of the IT infrastructure (not just storage) and impacts the success of virtually every IT initiative.

Right now, in your organization, special interest groups are out there evaluating niche ILM solutions and believe me there are plenty of ILM vendors that only do one or two niche things and are happy to engage with those groups.

Next Page: Taking a unified approach.