Guide to Information Management: Data Classification, Search and Management

Vetting the ILM players

These leading players offer many of the hardware and software components you'll need for ILM.

By Mike Karp, Network World, 10/28/06 vendor

The short answer is an emphatic no. Unfortunately, investing in ILM is not as easy as buying a pastrami sandwich at the corner deli where all the works are behind the same glass case.

It's likely that each vendor you speak with will have a different approach to ILM and that no one vendor will address the gamut of considerations and solution components you require.

Your solution will likely encompass components from multiple vendors and from your own legacy systems. Especially when it comes to data classification, the big vendors will typically approach you with a product mix that includes offerings from such specialty vendors as Abrevity, Index Engines, Kazeon, Mimosa, Njini and StoredIQ.

A list of the leading ILM vendors must include CA, EMC, HP, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Sun and Symantec, though many smaller companies offer key parts such as data classification and continuous data protection that may deliver exactly the value you need.

The following snapshots show each vendor's approach to ILM and some of their key offerings. All offer some degree of automation in their approaches.

CA pays lots of attention to the interrelationship between storage and date security, securing information at each phase of its life through its eTrust suite of identity and access management software. A secure infrastructure driven by ILM policies means that information can move around the enterprise based upon its business value and usefulness, while maintaining complete confidentiality and integrity.

CA sells software only, but has close alliances with most hardware vendors. Key strengths include records management, e-mail and other messaging, security, backup and recovery products. A year ago, CA extended its range of ILM products through the acquisition of iLumin and earlier this year with the acquisition of records-management firm MDY. Records and e-mail management are now key parts of the company's information management offering.

EMC
EMC takes a three-phased approach to ILM. Step one covers infrastructure tiering, data classification and process definition. Specific projects might include consolidating data, establishing a business-continuity system or putting a backup-to-disk method into place.

The second phase addresses application-specific issues such as identifying low-value data and defining policies for backup, recovery, archiving, regulatory compliance and managing unstructured content.

Phase three focuses on creating a unified approach to accessing, manipulating and protecting information across a site's applications, building enterprisewide information repositories that should provide integrated views of information assets. It's here that enterprise content-management or policy-based automation is implemented.

EMC recently acquired leading security firm RSA Security, and subsequently changed its tag line from "where information lives" to "where information lives securely." These days, secure ILM is a part of just about every EMC pitch.

HP
HP positions its offerings not as a storage strategy but as an extension of a business strategy, linking processes, policies, technologies and products in specific implementations to control information capture, management, retention and delivery. Not surprisingly, ILM addresses more than digital data storage for HP. It also includes a wide range of other nondigital content from such business tools as mobile phones and PDAs, a slant that leverages the company's expertise in imaging, printing and personal systems as well as ILM and traditional computer products and services.

HP's products include a hardware and software mix of both homegrown and partner-developed applications. Particular attention is paid to data capture (handheld, laptop, imaging products), management (data protection, data migration, resource management), retention (backup, e-mail, CDP, electronic vaulting) and delivery (document delivery and hosted solutions). By partnering with Adic, HP also has a special focus on digital archiving for rich media.

HDS
HDS has tiered hardware and management products for open systems, mainframes and network-attached storage (NAS). The vendor emphasizes data replication and moving data nondisruptively across the various storage tiers, using its virtualization controllers as a front end to the external storage systems.

When it comes to ILM, HDS collaborates extensively with Arkivio, StoredIQ and a number of other partners to provide a comprehensive offering. HDS' contribution is the hardware (particularly storage devices and virtualization controllers) and the storage-resource management (its HiCommand suite, which manages discovery, tuning, tiering and a number of other storage aspects) that enable policy-based automated storage movement across storage tiers. The company also provides a suite of business-continuity tools that create data copies, replicating them across local heterogeneous tiers of storage and out to remote recovery sites.

IBM
For the last several years, on-demand computing and data access have been the basis of IBM's enterprise business strategy. The company recognizes that ILM plays a key role in successfully delivering information on demand, and particularly addresses regulatory compliance and general data-growth issues.

ILM offerings are broken into four solution areas: application and database archiving, data life-cycle management, e-mail archiving, and enterprise content management (imaging, digital asset management and digital content integration).

IBM also has created a number of hardware-software packages, some offering generalized ILM services and others specifically attuned to the requirements of vertical markets. The DR550, for example, comes preconfigured and integrated to help store, retrieve and manage regulated and nonregulated data. It features automatic provisioning, migration, expiration and archiving capabilities.

Sun
Sun approaches ILM by linking business intent (as expressed in plans, requirements and service-level agreements), operational processes (policy management and data classification) and storage management. The company offers both software and hardware products, but third-party offerings are also part of the mix.

Sun sorts its ILM offerings into four categories: security management (including role-based access management, authentication and encryption), retention management (compliance requirements, managing reference information, archiving, tiered storage and access controls), continuous data protection and infrastructure optimization.

Sun's Virtual Storage Manager underpins much of this, as does a content-management product that provides a single point of access for managing most types of electronic records. Probably most important is Sun's SAM-FS software, which provides data classification, centralized metadata management, policy-based data placement, protection, migration, long-term retention and recovery technology. A bundled compliance archiving system puts the company's compliance archiving software on an NAS appliance.

Symantec
Symantec, mostly through its Veritas-developed products, has focused on archiving, storage management and data protection, though not within the context of ILM. Each of these, however, is an important aspect of ILM, and Symantec is changing to meet the times. It has recently concentrated much effort on managing e-mail and other forms of unstructured electronic content, building a product set to provide secure, searchable online archives, particularly in the e-mail space.

This centralized archive is crucial to Symantec's approach to ILM - no surprise considering the company's history in volume management. From this centralized archive it can address several of the forces that drive ILM adoption, particularly regulatory compliance, legal requirements management and improving the organization's ability to find information.

The heart of the Symantec ILM offering is an e-mail capture and management package integrating mailbox management, regulatory compliance and eDiscovery. Symantec solutions are software-only, but they interoperate with just about all vendor hardware.

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