Keys to Information Life Cycle Management

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In the world of spam, being overwhelmed by data has now become a mainstream problem. Millions of automated, Viagra-promising e-mails are sent every day, which propel people into a deleting frenzy that could result in the trashing of something very important. Spam is only the tip of the iceberg, though — today, professionals deal with strictly computer documents, requiring much of their daily time to simply sort through and find the data that matter to them.



A set of policies, tools, practices and processes called information life cycle management (ILM) is used to align the business value of information with the most appropriate and cost-effective IT infrastructure. ILM is based on the need to move information to less costly means of storage and management according to its usage rather than assessing its value to an organization and managing it accordingly.



This practice has been used for decades by professionals working in records and information management (RIM), and its origins are in the management of material-based information such as microfilm or photographs.



Recognizing the need for a computer age update, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) started the Information Life Cycle Management Initiative (ILMI) to streamline ILM for today’s world. The initiative allows industry participants to come together and focus on unifying, defining, implementing a coherent vision for ILM and its impact on information and storage management. Edgar St. Pierre, ILMI chairman and senior technologist for EMC, sees advantages to this approach.



“First and foremost, the intent is to provide a consistent message, terminology and education to customers about the value implementing ILM-based practices provides to their organizations,” he said. “By agreeing on terminology and by introducing these terms back into our member companies, it creates an apples-to-apples discussion between company representatives and customers.”



St. Pierre also said the initiative does not create an “authoritative” language for connecting the recent computer-based data to older, records-based data.



“What the ILMI is doing is producing the authoritative industry message with respect to automated ILM services that will eventually bridge the needs of a records information manager with automated solutions in the data center,” he said. “ILM is helping to bridge the gap between the business and the data center.”



Such a bridge would be beneficial to any company dealing with more data than it can process at a giving time, but it’s not as easy as flipping a switch — considerations must be made to make an ILM a successful venture.



St. Pierre said the keys for a company’s successful ILM implementation are leadership and experience, which help create the kinds of goals necessary to the company regarding ILMs.



“Sponsorship from the C-level executive is very important, along with a clear definition of the goals for the implementation, e.g. is the goal to reduce costs, improve service delivery, reduce risk or all of the above?” he said. “Different goals will produce different strategies for implementation. Finally, I’d say a dose of expert advice along the way is incredibly helpful. That expert advice may be from internal exerts or from a professional services engagement. Either way, it’s valuable to have a set of previous experiences to help in guiding the process along.”



Companies’ goals might differ in terms of ILM — every company has a different policy regarding data, so there’s no “silver bullet” ILM.



St. Pierre, however, said with strong leadership, certain management policies can also help institute ILM, and identifying that goal is just as crucial as any other part of ILM implementation.



“Understanding your business’s requirements is a key first step and must be established as important business policy,” he said. “Is it to reduce risk? Then a tool to classify and index your data would be key tools to implementing these business policies. Is it to reduce costs and complexity in the data center? If so, then consolidation of configurations and establishment of a storage service catalog is an effective business policy in reducing capital outlays and improving the scalability of data center personnel.”

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