EMC software automates ILM

By Kevin Komiega

EMC recently began shipments of a new software suite that helps users discover, classify, and manage unstructured file data. Dubbed EMC Infoscape, the software is a combination of technologies acquired through a number of EMC acquisitions and, according to the company, heralds the next generation of its information lifecycle management (ILM) software. EMC is also offering a related consulting service to help customers implement the software.

Infoscape’s primary function is to automate ILM services such as information protection, data placement on tiers of storage, regulatory compliance, and information security based on the information’s value to the business. In other words, Infoscape automatically discovers information, assesses its importance, and executes pre-defined ILM policies. EMC says Infoscape is more than just a bundle of existing data management products. “This is not a packaging effort. We’ve been writing this software for two years using discovery technology from our acquisition of Smarts, data classification technology from Documentum, and data movement technology from Legato,” says Mark Sorenson, senior vice president of information management software at EMC.

When asked whether Infoscape works with hardware from other vendors, EMC said interoperability is in the works. “Infoscape is storage-agnostic. Out of the chute it is primarily focused on NAS servers and EMC hardware, but over time it will support NAS servers from all vendors,” says Sorenson.

Once installed, Infoscape automatically discovers files in network shares by scanning and collecting file metadata. Infoscape can currently accept bulk metadata transfers from EMC’s Celerra NAS devices. The software then classifies files into various categories based on either collected file metadata or actual file content using a variety of techniques.

Infoscape also automates file movement between network shares and storage servers, initially in Celerra environments, for security, compliance, or storage optimization purposes. In addition, it generates reports on items such as duplicate files and capacity utilization while leaving audit trails of all activities for compliance purposes.

Infoscape uses a full-text indexing engine to let users search for, or within, a selected category of files. Users can then conduct cost analysis and modeling and generate reports on chargebacks and cost savings.

EMC also introduced the Information Management Strategy Service, a consulting offering from EMC Global Services. This service is aimed at helping customers define ILM policies and procedures for data classification and managing unstructured file data.

The base Infoscape module is priced from $125,000, and capacity licensing starts at $9,000 per terabyte. The price tag may seem steep, but the market for automated ILM tools such as Infoscape is still in its infancy, and analysts expect the software to eventually move downstream and become a feasible buy for those with smaller IT budgets.

Mike Fisch, director of storage and networking at The Clipper Group research and consulting firm, says EMC is initially targeting large organizations with compliance pains, but future versions of Infoscape will likely trickle down market to benefit smaller companies. He also believes that while there are many automated data classification and movement tools on the market from companies such as Abrevity, Arkivio, Index Engines, Kazeon, Njini, Scentric, and StoredIQ, as well as from larger vendors such as HP and NetApp, the arrival of EMC’s Infoscape may serve to validate the need for the technology in the minds of some end users.

This article was originally published on November 01, 2006