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Driven to Tiers

Where has ILM gone? Check the warehouse that's also home to artificial intelligence, midlevel management systems, and the lights-out data center.

Like other mildewed marketing terms, ILM hasn't gone anywhere, because it never arrived. Information lifecycle management was really a castle in the air, a rosy picture painted by vendors, in which data would move efficiently (and apparently without user intervention) from arrival on the network to progressively cheaper storage locations as it aged.

"A lot of vendors wanted a vision of real-time data activities going on, with storage as a sort of stateless entity," says analyst Brad O'Neill of the Taneja Group consultancy.

Pure pipe dream, given the facts of storage life. But like most pipe dreams, it grew from a tiny bit of truth. In this case, the truth was that SATA and SAS were rising to meet the requirements of a cheap but effective alternative to Fibre Channel. At the same time, the level of data companies needed to keep was escalating. (See SAS Wave Breaks Big.) All this led to the adoption of tiered storage, in which data is moved (instead of moving itself) from one platform to another, depending on factors like its age and its accessibility requirements.

"It's an absolute reality that users have deployed multiple tiers of disk storage and classes of data," O'Neill says. And every storage vendor has made its metadata accessible to help users get organized. "It's well in hand," O'Neill says.

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