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ILM – Information Lifecycle Misdirection

June 22nd, 2005

Great illusionists like Harry Houdini, David Copperfield and arguably David Blane escaped many strait jackets, and water tanks. Dumbstruck audiences rarely saw what was really going on. There was no danger, it just seemed that way. These magicians used their most simple, yet potent tactic, misdirection.

The IT industry sometimes seems like an illusion, smoke and mirrors designed to amaze its audience.

Take Information Lifecycle Management, almost every storage vendor has staged a show. Tonight’s performance – how an IT vendor will allow you to manage your data from conception to death and automatically cascade it across tiers of storage without impacting your ability to run your business or comply with legislation. IT users see themselves as the audience in the magic show. Is it an illusion or is it for real?

ILM is tricky, but it is a real deliverable if your storage infrastructure and the software used to manage it are completely unified.

Unifying your data infrastructure gives you a complete overview of what you have, what you need to store locally, what needs to be kept highly available and what can be archived off to tape or optical for longer term compliance. Under the Data Protection Act (DPA), the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), you need to be able to locate specific data quickly to fulfil legal requirements – there is nothing magical about that.

The average storage software vendor market’s product set grew by acquisition. As a result, the individual products are barely integrated making the storage task more difficult than it ever needed to be. To divert attention, these acquisitive vendors have created an illusion around their brand – the illusion being that an integrated ILM capability is achievable just by buying all the pieces from one place.

The trouble with illusions is that the audience figure out the trick soon enough – even if they spend their money buying tickets for the first few performances. They eventually see it for what it is – a marketing illusion.

The ILM illusion falters as the IT user audience trys to make the pieces work together efficiently and effectively. They find that the lack of unification from most vendors actually inhibits them from fully consolidating their infrastructure and makes it even harder to comply with DPA and FOIA – and it costs more.

This leaves IT purchasers in a quandary. When is a vendors ILM story an illusion and when is it for real?

Harry Houdini drowned when one of his tricks went wrong – the problem was that the particular audience he had in that night thought it was an illusion, but they were wrong.

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