Information Lifecycle Management
Not many people would disagree that after cash, data is the lifeblood of a business, and if it is disturbed, so is the ability of the business to function properly. However, many administrators and planners fail to recognize the fact that the value of data to an organization is not constant. In fact, the value of data decreases over time, as it loses its relevance, freshness, and "popularity".
One question that administrators should be asking themselves is: why should data that is decreasing in value remain in expensive front line storage, subject to the same backup, replication, and recovery policies and procedures as key data? Would it not be useful to have a system or methodology in place for analyzing and tracking data freshness, so that storage space could be made free for more fresh and relevant data, and time / bandwidth consuming data protection policies be relaxed as data loses its value? It is here that the concept of Information Lifecycle Management, or ILM, steps into this gap -to try and address and resolve some of these questions.
In an ILM configuration, data is analyzed for its value, and stored accordingly. At the peak of its popularity, it is stored in the fastest, most responsive top-tier storage on hand and subject to the most stringent replication and backup controls. Since the ILM system is constantly monitoring the data's value in comparison to other data, as it loses value, it is migrated down the chain to less expensive, less powerful storage, where it may not be accessed as frequently, or protected as carefully. In the final stage, it is migrated out of the storage system completely. Data of the lowest value is either purged from the system or transferred to other media (e.g., written to tape and delivered to offsite storage) depending upon the organization's policy and regulatory requirements for data end-of-life.
In practical terms, the goals of ILM are to manage data growth and accessibility, reduce cost, improve recovery, and reduce hardware and software risk/exposure by introducing new technologies into the storage mix.
From a wider storage management architecture perspective, ILM has an integrated relationship with the practices of Data Tiering, Disaster Recovery Planning, and System Resource Management. Data Tiering is concerned with organizing data into a hierarchy based on its value, while Disaster Recovery Planning (DR) addresses a storage system's ability to restore lost data as quickly and completely as possible. System Resource Management (SRM) encompasses a whole range of diverse storage system status and performance analysis metrics to ensure that storage resources are optimized via a number of manual and automatic controls. These four elements feed into and play off each other, as changes in one element influence the other three in a cyclical manner.
ILM and the StorTrends iTX Software Stack
With StorTrends iTX, AMI introduced a leading-edge Storage Resource Management (SRM) module with a wide spectrum of manageability offered through a "single pane of glass". This module is a very powerful visual tool that imparts real-time manageability and enables administrators to proactively track, manage and plan capacity.
To further boost the capability for capacity tracking, StorTrends iTX features a dynamic Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) module. This lightweight, efficient service analyzes and tracks various performance and usage attributes of the provisioned capacity. For example, users can use the ILM interface to see how far back in time a certain storage region was accessed, or to determine statistically what the best time of the day is for performing various background chores.
The ILM module in StorTrends iTX introduces a very powerful workflow management engine that automates and schedules tasks in the background at the most appropriate time. As an example, unused or stale data can be automatically compacted and pushed out to cheaper storage at a statistically-determined "least busy" period.
Some advantages of the ILM implementation in StorTrends iTX include:
- Granular block level tracking of access patterns
- Bi-directional migration between tiers
- Efficiency of migration
- Automatic classification by type of storage, RPM, size of drives, RAID level and background activity
- Visual tools to monitor and analyze
- Optimizes and improves performance
- Reduces expenditure on disks by supporting multiple levels of tiered storage
- Improves continuity by conserving space for snapshots
- Built around an extensible framework that can integrate with 3rd party add-ons
- Storage unit discovery
- Capacity trending and analysis tools
- Statistical and instantaneous performance monitoring
- Backup and recovery management
- Tiered storage management
- Presentation and reporting tools
Want to Learn More?
For more information about the Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) capability featured in StorTrends Data Storage appliances, log in to download the whitepaper from our Storage Library. If you haven't already registered on StorTrends.com, click here to register and get started accessing detailed information on StorTrends products, including whitepapers, technical briefs, case studies, and more.