Understanding information life-cycle management, part 3

Posted on May 01, 2005

RssImageAltText

In the last article in our series on ILM we focus on strategies/products from IBM, Hewlett-Packard, ADIC, and FalconStor.

By VS Joshi

In the first part of our series on information life-cycle management (see InfoStor, January 2005, p. 36) we defined ILM as a strategy rather than a product. We also defined the four segments of ILM: data classification, data policy, data management, and a tiered storage infrastructure (see figure).

Click here to enlarge image

Last month, in the second article in the series we examined the ILM strategies and products from EMC, Network Appliance, Veritas, and StorageTek (see InfoStor, April 2005, p. 22).

This final article in the series focuses on IBM, Hewlett-Packard, ADIC, and FalconStor and draws general conclusions about ILM.

IBM

At the tiered infrastructure and data management ILM segments, IBM’s TotalStorage family of hardware and software products, along with management software from Tivoli, provides companies with a range of storage options, from the high-end DS6000/DS8000 and ESS disk arrays to the modular DS4000 series (formerly FAStT) to low-cost entry-level DS400 and DS300 arrays. IBM also offers a broad range of tape products.

IBM has several solutions that focus on disk (volume) and file virtualization, heterogeneous data replication, and integrated storage management. These network-based storage services include TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), SAN File System (SAN FS), and TotalStorage Productivity Center.

The virtualization products provide the ability to create storage pools on appropriate storage arrays and set policies to move data. SAN FS provides policy-based migration for “active” data and Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) provides policy-based hierarchical storage management (HSM) to exploit tiered storage for “inactive” data.

Another offering in this ILM segment is the IBM TotalStorage DR550, a Serial ATA-based disk array that provides a fast access platform for archiving and retrieving data in non-erasable, non-rewritable format. This write-once, read-many (WORM) functionality helps businesses meet the growing challenge of managing and securing retention data and other critical information assets according to business and legal regulations.

The broad portfolio that puts IBM in the top tier of ILM players is its enterprise content management (ECM) suite, along with its partnerships in e-mail (semi-structured data) archiving and database (structured data) archiving.

IBM’s DB2 Content Manager is a key part of IBM’s ECM portfolio. IBM rounded out its ECM portfolio through acquisitions of Green Pasture Software (document management), Tarian Software (records management), Aptrix, and Venetica.

For semi-structured data, IBM’s DB2 CommonStore for Lotus Domino and Exchange Server archives e-mails and attachments. These products link with DB2 Content Manager to archive e-mail journals and personal e-mail boxes. IBM’s partnership with iLumin enables it to deliver a solution for e-mail and instant message archival, supervision, and retrieval.

IBM’s DB2 Content Manager for Data Retention Compliance is a comprehensive software platform combining iLumin’s Assentor Enterprise with DB2 Content Manager, Records Manager, CommonStore, and other IBM services. The solution manages enterprise messages throughout their life cycle, including functionality to capture, inspect, analyze, supervise, store, retain, and discover e-mail and IM communications. In addition to helping companies address the data-retention requirements of SEC, NASD, Sarbanes-Oxley, and other regulations, the solution enables indexing of large e-mail stores and supports organizations’ discovery and backup system requirements.

IBM Content Management for Message Monitoring and Retention requires both the DB2 CommonStore for Message Retention program and the Assentor application suite from iLumin. iLumin’s Assentor Enterprise suite provides capabilities for message capture, regulatory compliance and corporate supervision, discovery, and litigation support.

IBM’s partnership with Princeton Softech provides active-archive database archiving that selectively archives and removes rarely accessed data from production databases to improve performance and application availability.

IBM Global Services plays a crucial role in filling the gap between the business and technology segments of ILM. One differentiating factor for IBM is its Business Consulting services unit. The combination of a strong position in ECM, consulting services, and a complete storage portfolio with virtualization technologies makes IBM a formidable player in the ILM market.

Hewlett-Packard

Hewlett-Packard’s depth and breadth of storage solutions-ranging from entry-level to enterprise and across disk, tape, optical, archival, and retrieval storage technologies-makes it one of the key players in the ILM market. HP has a broad offering with XP, EVA, and MSA disk arrays, NAS and SAN products, and SDLT and LTO tape drives/libraries, etc. A differentiator for HP in the tiered infrastructure ILM segment is its optical storage products, which provide cost-effective, removable storage for secure, long-term archival of electronic records to meet data-retention and regulatory compliance requirements.

At the data management ILM layer, lack of a clear virtualization strategy has put HP at a disadvantage in heterogeneous environments. And most of its software for replication, mirroring, etc., is mainly HP platform-centric.

However, HP played an ace card when it acquired Persist in 2003. That acquisition led to the Reference Information Storage System (RISS), HP’s hardware/software platform for storage and retrieval of archived information. RISS provides an all-in-one, highly scalable, active and selective archiving platform for storing, searching, and rapidly retrieving reference information. This is enabled via full-content indexing and a grid computing architecture based on the concept of smart cells.

HP’s ILM solutions enable the company to concentrate on vertical industries such as healthcare, financial services, life sciences, etc., taking the compliance regulations of these individual industries into account.

ADIC

ADIC is traditionally known for tape libraries, but the company is taking steps to be an ILM player by providing another storage tier in the form of virtual tape libraries (VTLs). ADIC’s Pathlight VX, like all VTLs, combines the characteristics of disk and tape in a turnkey appliance that provides automated, transparent data life-cycle management for backup data. (Note: A VTL is an appliance that includes a controller, data movers, an integrated fabric, RAID arrays, and automated tape storage. A VTL presents itself to software applications as a tape library, but in reality it puts the backup files on disks and then migrates them to tape inside the appliance. VTLs provide the performance and reliability of disks, and the capacity, low cost, and transportability of tapes in a single system.)

In the data management segment of ILM, ADIC provides a software-only solution-StorNext-which includes a SAN file system (StorNext File System) and a policy-based data migration tool (StorNext Storage Manager) that moves data between different tiers, creates copies of files, expires data, reclaims space, etc.

StorNext provides a managed storage environment to support applications that understand the business use of data and the requirements for its storage and retention. These applications can place files in the StorNext managed storage environment and let the StorNext software carry out movement/replication of files and transparently access the files from any storage tier. The StorNext software can be used with ADIC libraries, other vendors’ libraries, or without tape libraries.

FalconStor

FalconStor has added various services to its IPStor software suite to facilitate ILM.

For example, the IPStor WORMLock Option for NAS enables organizations to use third-party disk arrays to emulate the behavior of traditional WORM media to meet internal and external data-retention requirements associated with securing, protecting, and storing regulated information. It facilitates archiving and retrieval of files and can attach a hidden digital signature to uniquely identify each file and protect it from being changed for a specified period of time.

FalconStor’s VirtualTape Library software is a turnkey disk-to-disk backup solution that emulates tape libraries. An IPStor Capacity-on-Demand option operates at the data management layer of ILM by optimizing disk space utilization and automatically performing real-time disk space provisioning based on policies. It also performs automatic capacity management through compression, relocation, and expansion.

Conclusions

The combination of poor organization tools and regulatory requirements leads to huge discovery costs and hidden liabilities in case of litigation. Along with the cost benefits associated with parking dormant and non-critical data on lower tiers of storage, it is the retrieval of information that has kick-started ILM initiatives.

ILM enables vendors to re-package their products under a new moniker, which is likely to move them from the core storage domain toward the application and information domain by adding intelligence about data. Since ILM is about allocating the right storage resources to data based on the value of the data, it prompts users to have a tiered infrastructure, which in turn enables storage vendors to sell more storage hardware and software.

As ILM incorporates products, processes, and practices that are required for regulatory compliance, having the ILM moniker enables storage vendors to be directly associated with IT managers dealing with business (as opposed to just storage technology) issues. Because penalties for non-compliance can be huge, getting attention from customers’ top management for ILM initiatives is easier than getting their attention for storage issues.

With all the above motivations, it is no surprise that storage vendors are taking the lead in driving ILM initiatives. In the tiered infrastructure segment, if vendors have tape, they are adding disks. If they have disks, they are adding tape products. And most of the vendors are attempting to round off their portfolios with VTLs, WORM, disk-to-disk backup, and object-based archive products.

In the data management segment vendors are either acquiring or reselling software that enables data movement (migration, replication, mirroring, etc.) between heterogeneous tiers.

Few companies other than EMC (Documentum), Hewlett-Packard (Persist), IBM (Green Pastures, Tarian Software), and Veritas (KVS) have acquired complementary companies that take them closer to the business segments of the ILM cube; most of the other vendors are limited to the bottom-two technology segments with partnerships in the business segments of ILM.

Click here to enlarge image

A “fuzzy gap” exists between the business segments (data classification, data policy) and technology segments (tiered infrastructure and data management-see figure above). The promise of ILM is to eliminate this fuzzy gap so that your storage-related decisions are in line with business objectives.

Currently, users navigate through this fuzzy gap manually with interaction between the business and IT groups within the company.

However, because business people are from Mars and IT people are from Venus, interaction between the two groups is not always an easy task and often requires a “neutral” third party to facilitate communication-a consulting and professional services organization.

Click here to enlarge image

Vendors are aggressively pushing their professional services to play a role in this fuzzy gap, and don’t be surprised if vendors’ ILM pitches start with professional services engagement. As vendors understand the business processes, workflow, and information flow in the fuzzy gap, they will start selling dynamic, content-aware automation products.

Until that happens, however, vendors are making their existing storage offerings relevant within an ILM context and are trying to forge relationships with enterprise content management companies such as Documentum (EMC), FileNet, OpenText, Hummingbird, Vignette, Mobius, InterWoven, etc., and with e-mail archiving companies, such as KVS (Veritas), AXS-One, Zantaz, iLumin, etc.

Click here to enlarge image

VS Joshi is an independent storage analyst. He can be contacted at vsjoshi@rcn.com.


Comment and Contribute
(Maximum characters: 1200). You have
characters left.

InfoStor Article Categories:

SAN - Storage Area Network   Disk Arrays
NAS - Network Attached Storage   Storage Blogs
Storage Management   Archived Issues
Backup and Recovery   Data Storage Archives