Signs of Lifecycle

Signs of Lifecycle

Information lifecycle management is not a technology or product that can be purchased. It is a process that requires defining the value of data in the organization and then storing and protecting that data accordingly - even as its value changes over time.

Turning on the Indicators

A successful ILM strategy may result in universally-accessible and appropriately-recorded data, but Short's research also uncovered business intelligence as a third view of ILM initiatives, with a particular focus on an improved customer experience.

Acknowledging that the top-level business intelligence (BI) view of ILM has been in demand by executives since he was completing his postgraduate studies in the 1970s, Knowles says BI is still probably not done too well. While some organizations have managed to define their requirements down to the point where they have useful business intelligence, he says, most businesses have great trouble grappling with defining what the real key indicators are specific for their business.

"In particular sectors where it has been developed well, I think it serves a greatly useful purpose because you have got the indicators like what are the three or four things that really matter, and tell me how the business is going," Knowles says. "We don't get the same clarity as driving a car in driving our business. Many of the indicators are too slow because they are lagging, in which case by the time you've taken corrective action it's too late."

To avoid the strategic information quagmire, the ABC's approach to data warehousing and business intelligence is to determine what it can extract to project forward into its system so it has a genuine management tool that is responsive in giving clear indications of "the current state of play". In essence, a BI platform must be reliable so it can be trusted and, in Knowles's words, tells the organization "we are seeing a deviation here, something might be happening, somebody else can go and look at a more detailed level of information in the organization".

For CIOs to see the full circle of BI relating back to ILM, Knowles says organizations have to "strike" what is the real value of the information and what is the value of the intelligence because the former is only good when it becomes useful intelligence. "So it's measuring the value of that to the business, and every business is going to be different," he says. "Is that going to add value to my business? And being able to articulate that to the users of that material. Each of those users has a different value that they attach to that particular piece of information. It's the collective component of all of those values that adds to the reason why I do it in the first place."

With the rapid convergence of operational and archival storage technologies, increasing records management and compliance regulation, and a relentless quest for more relevant business intelligence, ILM is quickly becoming the next important patch under the CIO's umbrella.

Regarding what CIOs should expect the cost of an ILM implementation to be, Knowles is pragmatic. "I don't think you can answer it, not simply, because it's core for our business."

SIDEBAR: Data Classification Speed Bumps

by Jerome Wendt

Classitying data is becoming the hot topic in storage. Viewed as a prerequisite for information lifecycle management (ILM) and simple to implement, it makes the dream of ILM a more attainable goal. However, there are some items users need to consider in order to keep this dream from becoming a harsh reality.

First, accessing all of the data you want to classify is never as easy as vendors make it sound. Discovering data using agent-less and agent-based approaches may look simple on a PowerPoint presentation, but introduce a few firewalls, battle hardened systems and database administrators and internal corporate barriers and the data that seemed so accessible at the outset of the project now might as well be stored in a vault.

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