In the press and in marketing materials, the terms data life-cycle management and information life-cycle management are often used interchangeably. However, a few vendors are making a case for separating and solidifying the definitions.
Vendors including EMC Corp. and Fujitsu Software Technology Corp. view ILM as a superset of DLM, with ILM offering additional intelligence to the management process.
According to Karen Dutch, vice president of product management at Fujitsu Softek, DLM is a simpler concept than ILM and focuses on the general characteristics of data—age, size and file type—without detailed knowledge of applications.
In contrast, said Dutch, ILM is a higher-level concept and implies awareness of the underlying value of information at any given point. ILM requires intelligence regarding the application context of the information.
These vendors believe that ILM solutions, unlike DLM, go beyond the file level and look into the content of the files rather than just the files themselves. For example, with a DLM solution, it is easy to search for a file (be it a spreadsheet, a letter or an invoice) if you know the name of the file. However, trying to search for data in each file (such as hunting for a specific account number or a company name during an audit) requires the intelligence that is found in ILM tools.
With large amounts of unstructured data growing throughout enterprises, it is extraordinarily difficult for users to sort through files to find data. Through ILM, IT managers and users have a way to search data repositories to find content.
In the past, speed, capacity and resilience were the key factors IT managers looked for when shopping for storage, but today the stakes have been raised. Storage vendors need to acquire or develop new technologies to embed information gathering and analysis capabilities into their storage systems.
We have already seen this starting to happen with storage vendors acquisitions of document management and knowledge management companies (such as EMCs acquisition of Documentum Inc.).
We expect to see more acquisitions and partnerships as storage vendors develop products and technologies in the ILM context.