I have a confession to make. I hate moving house. I don’t mean gently despise, gosh I could really do without having to move…we’re talking would rather poke my eyes out with red hot knitting needles hatred here. You would think that having had to move from my family home to university, from uni to many and several cities in the USA where I worked, from Atlanta to Dublin, from Dublin to London, from flat in London to nice house in Mill Hill, that I would be old hat at this and moving would be no big deal. Errr, no…couldn’t be further from the truth. Moving house ranks up there as something that I would do just about anything to have done for me, although even having the work physically done for me if but a small fraction of why I hate moving. I’ll try to explain why.
I like reading. A lot. And so it takes next to no time at all for whereever I might be living to become inundated with books, magazines, newspapers…you get the picture. But I also have a dirty little secret….I don’t throw away anywhere near as much read stuff as I should! I read an article/book/whatever and I either know someone that would also enjoy reading this or naievely believe that I will need this article/book/whatever at a later date. Yes, I know with the internet I could probably find it again in an archive somewhere but logic has precious little to do with this! I also love music and have a collection of LPs, cassette tapes, CDs, et al that I will probably never listen to again now that I have an iPod. But have I thrown the old stuff away? I think you can guess that I haven’t. And let’s not talk about my obsessive collection of DVDs as I think you are getting the picture.
So what happens when I have to move? There’s the rub. If I was going to stay in one place, I would probably just get a skip every few years and cull my collections of reading material, music, and DVDs to make space for more reading material, music, and DVDs. But I could do this in my own time and at my own leisure. Moving accelerates this whole process and I then have to stand there with boxes deciding whether to take it with me, cull it, give it away, and so on. Just thinking about having to do this is enough to make my teeth itch and desperately want a nice cold G&T.
What does this have to do with data storage and protection?
Information Lifecycle Management, or ILM for short, has been one of the biggest buzzwords in storage over the past 6 or 7 years. What began with storage virtualisation and other similar products designed to increase storage utilisation has resulted in end-to-end ILM vendor portfolios. I should mention at this point that some folks call ILM Hierarchical Storage Management or HSM…horses for courses, ILM and HSM are pretty well the same thing and I view this in somewhat the same vein as football versus soccer. It’s football, by the way, but if my wayward American brethren insist on calling it soccer well…let’s just hope they can at least understand the offside rule. But I digress. ILM at it’s best is the ability to move data from high tier to mid tier to low tier to archive seamlessly with no manual intervention and without disruption to the user. Great. What the heck does that mean?
What if I could have someone [let’s call him Bob] at my beck and call 24/7/365 to manage my books/newspapers/magazines/music et al. I would tell Bob that, when I’m done with a newspaper or magazine, go ahead and digitise it and catalog it for me on a hard drive. After I’ve read a book, wait three months and if I haven’t given it to someone go ahead and move it to an off-site storage box but catalog that too so that I know where my books are. And if I don’t ask about my book for a further nine months after that, digitise it and put it on the same hard drive as my newspapers and magazines. With the hard drive, make sure that any data that I haven’t accessed in six months gets moved to a lower cost data archive and if I haven’t accessed it from the archive in another six months back it up to a tape and send it to the book storage area. But remember, Bob…I want to access the data I just mentioned any time I want and I don’t want to wait more than 10 minutes to get it. Forever. And all of this needs to happen without my seeing or knowing it is happening. And don’t eat too much either, Bob…Mrs. PL takes a dim view of that and may make me move you [and me!] out to the garden shed.
Imagine the space I would save! I would never have to cull again! I could move at will, or at the very least be able to talk to Mrs. PL about nice houses without dreading the book/music/DVDs to move. Sheer unadulterated bliss! Put another way, ILM on a very personal level.
Let’s look at a vendor ILM solution…when EMC began to acquire companies such as Data General, Legato, Documentum, Kashya, and RSA many people were scratching their heads. Why would EMC, known for their high availability / high throughput systems in the upper end of the market, want to acquire a mid tier disk company [Data General made the CLARiiON platform] a backup software company who also had archiving capability [Legato Networker] a content and document management company [Documentum] and so on? The answer was they were [and still are] building an ILM portfolio so that they can offer an enterprise solution to a customer which will move data seamlessly, preferably at the block level, between tiers transparent to the users…data storage at the appropriate price point from cradle to grave. Nirvana! Does it work? Well, yes and no. EMC, IBM, HDS have all been working on ILM and we are a lot further along now than we were five years ago but it isn’t as ‘seamless’ and transparent to the user as it could be. Thankfully within the CC Storage Practice we understand the ILM portfolios of each vendor and so can implement the solution in a non-disruptive way, and the ILM solutions get better each day.
I’ll leave you with a very interesting ILM solution which has recently entered the market. Compellent. Compellent offer ILM ‘in a box’ whereby they have a rack of disks capable of moving data from tier to tier based upon business rules at the block level. Confused? Think ILM as described above, but if I only partially read a book with the intention of coming back to it later Compellent would be able to move the pages I’ve already read whilst I would still think that there is an entire book sat on my bedside table. Clever stuff, and ILM at the block level may very well be the answer in future.
Computacenter services and solutions within Storage and related software are very much underpinned by best of breed vendor ILM solutions, please contact me if we can help you discuss Computacenter ILM solutions with your environment.