Analytics Brief: Gaining Value From ILM

An information life-cycle management strategy is key to addressing expanding data volumes and regulations for data archiving and retrieval.
An ILM strategy requires the coordination of a variety of elements, including policies, processes, and technology. An initiative can be thwarted if one or more gears fail to mesh. We've identified three issues that can derail ILM.

First is a lack of buy-in. At the top of the list is management. IT can't undertake an ILM project on its own. The CIO, legal counsel, and senior managers with purview over data management policies must all be on board. And don't forget the bottom of the pyramid. Users can subvert just about any plan or policy, regardless of how well conceived it may be. For example, we saw one legal department insist that all e-mails be deleted 30 days after they were sent or received. Users undercut the edict by saving mail to CDs, flash drives, and hard drives.

The second roadblock is insufficient cost savings. IT organizations often approach an e-mail archiving application with the assumption that they can save money by replacing a high-end storage system with low-cost SATA arrays for the archiving system. However, e-mail archiving systems can run $150 per user. The lesson is that hard costs alone won't justify an ILM strategy. ILM backers must bring in other cost metrics.

Third is product and vendor immaturity. While e-mail archiving solutions have been on the market for about 10 years, the information classification and management and database archiving markets are relatively young. Many enterprises are wary about embracing immature technologies, particularly when the repercussions for failing to properly classify information can be severe.

ILM technology is in its infancy. In the best of all possible worlds, vendors would provide inexpensive, easy-to-use tools that could accurately classify data and manage it according to its business value. In the meantime, companies face intense pressure to manage their information and storage more strategically. For now, they'll employ point solutions that match their policies and processes while keeping an eye on this evolving market.

chart: ILM Benefits -- If you're using ILM in production, rate the benefits your organization has gained.