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ILM Remains Illusory

Information lifecycle management (ILM) may be one of the hottest things in storage today, with everyone whos anyone claiming to offer at least a slice of it, but there seems to be little consensus on how to set the policies needed to achieve the ILM dream.

Over recent months, storage hardware and software vendors alike have been tugging their own, personalized ILM strategies out of the woodwork, each company claiming it has the best approach to affordably managing data over its entire lifetime (see EMC CEO Sees Slow Turnaround, Veritas Moves up the Stack, and HP Heightens Tape IQ, and our interview with Pat Martin, President & CEO, StorageTek). That entails setting up automated policies that can move data over to less expensive storage as its value diminishes.

“The fundamental underlying principles are certainly sound,” says IDC analyst Bill North. “The challenge is: In a sea of information, how do you categorize the data?”

One ILM criterion that everyone seems to agree on is the age of the data. The value of email, for instance, drops dramatically after only a couple of days. Most companies offering ILM solutions offer policies for moving data to cheaper storage once it reaches a certain age.

But age is just one piece of the puzzle. Old personnel files or sensitive financial information could, for instance, be far more valuable to a company than brand new chatty emails between employees. And while most companies agree that there are a number of factors besides age to consider -- like how mission-critical a particular piece of information is -- few mention the complexity of accurately categorizing that data in their ILM press releases.

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