Industries and organizations thrive on “Information”. The effective use of information so that it is aligned to meet the business demands is therefore a very crucial essential. The millions of bytes of data, requires not only effective storage but processes which handle the data right from creation and disposal after it is no longer needed. Maintenance of data in a cost effective manner is therefore a very significant activity in any organization. The answer to all the above is Information Lifecycle Management (ILM).
What is ILM? Technology in combination with processes and policies to effectively manage data to suit the requirements of the organization is what is the basis of Information Lifecycle Management. ILM manages the lifespan of data required by organizations. Storage medium, security, access rights and the way data will be accessed are all part of ILM activities. ILM through its dynamic process of reassessment of data, discards data which is no longer used.
A tiered architecture is often used for ILM where in data which is redundant is often moved to storage media which is more cost effective. ILM is involved in the evolution of data, changes in the data over a period of time, its importance and finally disposal of obsolete data. Most organization use business applications which are data centric. Since voluminous amount data is involved many times it so happens there is not track of the amount if information available and the way it is stored.
Often time is wasted in gathering the information as it is not stored in a structured manner. It ensures that data is stored in a way that is compliant with the organization policies and can be retrieved with ease. ILM also facilitates classification of data depending upon its sensitiveness and requirements by the business users. This can be done in two ways. The first is to segregate the data depending on its business use and relevance. The second is to prevent security breaches, access rights are decided keeping in mind the policies of organizations.
Archiving of data is done depending on certain criteria so that it is much easier to access the next time a requirement comes up. Value of data determines the type of storage media to be used. If the data requires regular access and is the focal point of applications then such data is better stored on media which provides faster access and has effective backup and recovery mechanism. Data which is not accessed on a regular basis can be stored in less expensive storage medium. ILM alleviates the use of tools to automate routine tasks thereby reducing time and errors.
ILM also focuses on reliability and relevance of data. A good example for the need of ILM would be email archiving. Communication heavily depends on email some of which are extremely important from business point of view. Old emails are stored in individual machines or network servers. A need may arise to access information from the previous email which may not be found or be available at the time it is required. Apart from this email needs to be organized in terms of its date of creation and importance of data.
IT Managers in organizations are primarily concerned about cost effectiveness of the voluminous data and also security issues. Apart from this IT managers need to classify data according to organization policies and also optimize disk storage. Massive budget is allocated by organization for purchase of storage media unaware of the fact that nearly half of the existing remains un-utilized. Operation managers are always seeking high end results and want faster , reliable data access at the right time.
ILM incorporates most of the features wanted by them and makes it easier to achieve an effective data storage management. It not only stresses on effective storage of information but also ensures that it is reliable and retrieval time is minimized for data that is critical and used frequently. ILM provided by Oracle is a good example of data management tool. The Oracle 11g is compatible with ILM. It uses basic steps such as definition of the data classes, tiered storage architecture, migrating policies along with compliance details.
It has interactive GUI tool known as the ILM assistant. The ILM assistant informs the user when the data has become obsolete and whether the data needs to be archived or deleted. IT also provides a preview about the cost involved in executing the above said activities along with storage requirement specifications. The security measures in the ILM assistant ensure that only authenticated users are given access to the data stores. It is a definitely a cost effective tool that can be sued to manage the lifecycle of data.
ILM assistant is short allows huge amount of data to be stored and available easily while keeping the cost of storage low. Conclusion Information Lifecycle management is an important aspect of data-centric organization. Depending on the requirement of the business should appropriately select the various solutions available. Large companies such as Oracle and IBM have come with ILM tools that provide them with effective data management and risk management. ILM prevents underutilization of disk space . Disorganized data can lead to huge losses and there an effective strategic approach is required.