Information lifecycle tools 'will take years' to develop

Many users at last week's Storage Networking World Fall 2003 conference in Orlando cautioned that so-called information lifecycle...

Many users at last week's Storage Networking World Fall 2003 conference in Orlando cautioned that so-called information lifecycle management approaches will require years of development.

To make the new concept work, conference attendees said suppliers will have to integrate storage devices, management tools and business applications and develop more robust policy-based engines that can dictate how, where and for how long data gets stored.

Some users said suppliers should first concentrate on making their existing storage products more interoperable.

James Medeiros, information systems and services manager at United Parcel Service, said he has yet to be convinced that his company should spend money on unproven lifecycle management technologies in an effort to make its storage management operations more efficient.

"As much as I'm out to eliminate multivendor tool sets and drive more policy-based management, I only have 25 storage technicians managing that infrastructure, compared with 4,700 IT workers overall," Medeiros said. "I'll take a beating on cost before I take a beating on reliability."

What Medeiros really needs is wider interoperability between rival products to make a planned storage management consolidation project possible. Medeiros, who manages 300TB of storage capacity at a data centre in New Jersey, said he wanted to tie in an additional 400TB spread among 1,500 UPS offices worldwide.

Information lifecycle management was one of the most talked-about topics at last week's conference, which was co-sponsored by Computerworld and the San Francisco-based Storage Networking Industry Association and drew more than 2,600 attendees.

During one packed session, 11% of the audience indicated via electronic polling devices that they have already installed information lifecycle management components. Thirty-three per cent said they plan to begin deployments in the next 12 months, and another 30% said they would do so within two years.

Top storage companies such as EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems and Veritas Software have announced information lifecycle management software or have said that they are developing technology designed to support automated storage management approaches.

But Steve Duplessie, an analyst at The Enterprise Storage Group, said information lifecycle management is little more than marketing jargon without real products to back up the promises of suppliers.

Mark Lewis, EMC's chief technology officer, acknowledged that the technology is still in the early stages of development. "We don't think anyone is doing it well," he said during a press briefing. "We don't think we're doing it well, at least not yet."

Jerry McElhatton, senior executive vice president of global technology and operations at MasterCard International, had a blunt message for suppliers. "Come back to us when you have something meaningful that will serve a business need and demonstrate a purpose," he said.

Lucas Mearian writes for Computerworld

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