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Is Storage Tiering ILM or a subset of ILM, but where is ILM


I was writing a blog post on Storage Economics last night for ITKE (IT Knowledge Exchange). During some thought  process and writing, I got confused on a sentence I was trying to format. The confusion was between ILM (Information Lifecycle Management) and Storage Tiering. Though I think both the concepts are overlapping, most of the responses I got from twitter were Storage Tiering is a revamped ILM or ILM with lipstick. Twitter search: “ILM, Tiering”.

After thinking about this for the past 24 hours, I am still not sure if I am at the right conclusion.

What is ILM (Information Lifecycle Management):

A process to manage information through out its lifecycle from creation to deletion. Lets look at ILM from a storage perspective.

1) A user or an application creates data and possibly over time that data is modified.
2) The data needs to be stored and possibly be protected through RAID, snaps, clones, replication and backups.
3) The data now needs to be archived as it gets old, and retention policies & laws kick in.
4) The data needs to be search-able and retrievable NOW.
5) Finally the data needs to be deleted.

Though some argue protection (RAID, snaps, clones, replication, backups) are part of ILP: Information Lifecycle Protection and not ILM: Information Lifecycle Management.

Here is a definition of ILM as I found on google: “define: ILM”.

What is Storage Tiering:

A defined pool of Storage within a storage environment that is classified based on either speed, availability, protection levels, access times, SLA’s, frequency of use and possibly cost.

The higher the Storage Tier 0, 1, 2, the higher the cost of management, purchase, availability, speed, protection levels, frequency of use and least access times and outages. The lower the Storage Tier 3, 4, 5, the lower the cost of management, purchase, availability, speed, protection levels, frequency of use and higher access times.

As data gets old or unused, based on workflow, the data moves from higher tiers to lower tiers, could be an automated move, a manual move, a business rules defined move or a policies based move.

Data Protection, Tiering, Archiving, Backup, Retention, Search are all components of Storage Tiering these days. So does this mean, Storage Tiering is merely a subset of ILM.

The Overlap:

I have not heard the word ILM from large vendors in any tech-talk, on any blogs, nor any podcasts these days. So where is ILM or have the vendors given up on the concept of ILM. Is Storage Tiering the new ILM, if that is the case what is the difference.

ILM does include two major components which are data creation and data deletion, but storage tiering does not encompass those, it only preaches moving the data to a lower or higher tier based on availability, backup, archive, retention, search and retrieve features.

So is ILM still alive and if it is, where is it. If it is dead, does it mean we do not have workflows and automation around the other aspects of ILM not included in Storage Tiering. Is Storage Tiering just a marketing buzz and is still uses the underlying concept of ILM.

I am all confused!!!

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  • rodos

    Devang, in thinking about the differences between Storage Tiering and ILM I would also be looking at the object awareness of each. For ILM you are going to want application awareness. That invoice data is now 7 years old and we can go and remove it, or its 3 years old we can move it to the archive area. ILM is about application data aging.

    Storage Teiring is about turing the performance of an application. Things like automated tiering (like EMC FAST2 and others) can move pieces of data around the storage tiers but with no application awareness its very limited in dealing with the lifecycle of the data.

    If course with more data moving to being un-structured data on standard file systems storage can start to become data aware (say at the file level) and do some more interesting things.

    Lastly, ILM was but of a flavor a while ago but agree that it has started to slow. Why? We can deliver a lot of storage space now (compared to a few years ago) and people want more and more of their data online for longer. With de-dupe and compressing getting better, larger disks and faster systems the return on investment of resources (people, process and hardware) is not as good as it used to be.

    Just some thoughts.

    Rodos

  • http://storagenerve.com storagenerve

    Hi Rodney,

    You make some very interesting points and are valid based on what we see in the industry today. Storage is growing limitless and we never plan to discard the data that we created today or possibly over the next several years.

    At this point does it mean based on where the industry is moving, we may see storage tiering as a fast growing concept of it but not ILM. Would storage tiering eventually help us achieve the perfect world of ILM in the future….

    May be ILM was too early for when it was introduced, without having a full control on the subset of processes those belong within ILM like storage tiering….

    Some additional thoughts around the subject…..

  • http://storagenerve.com storagenerve

    Hi Rodney,

    You make some very interesting points and are valid based on what we see in the industry today. Storage is growing limitless and we never plan to discard the data that we created today or possibly over the next several years.

    At this point does it mean based on where the industry is moving, we may see storage tiering as a fast growing concept of it but not ILM. Would storage tiering eventually help us achieve the perfect world of ILM in the future….

    May be ILM was too early for when it was introduced, without having a full control on the subset of processes those belong within ILM like storage tiering….

    Some additional thoughts around the subject…..

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