Comparing ILM vendors

What do the major players offer? asks Mike Karp

Is any ILM (information lifecycle-management) vendor likely to offer one-stop shopping capable of meeting all of a user’s needs?

The short answer is an emphatic no. Unfortunately, investing in ILM is not as easy as buying a pastrami sandwich at the corner deli where all the ingredients are behind the same glass case.

Here’s a rundown on the leading ILM vendors:


CA pays lots of attention to the interrelationship between storage and data security, securing information at each phase of its life through its eTrust suite of identity and access management software. A secure infrastructure driven by ILM policies means that information can move around organisations based upon its business value and usefulness, while maintaining complete confidentiality and integrity.

CA sells software only, but has close alliances with most hardware vendors. Key strengths include records management, email and other messaging, security, backup and recovery products. CA has extended its range of ILM products through the acquisition of iLumin last year and that of records-management firm MDY earlier this year.


EMC takes a three-phased approach to ILM. Step one covers infrastructure tiering, data classification and process definition. Specific projects might include consolidating data, establishing a business-continuity system or putting a backup-to-disk method into place.

The second phase addresses application-specific issues such as identifying low-value data and defining policies for backup, recovery, archiving, regulatory compliance and managing unstructured content.

Phase three focuses on creating a unified approach to accessing, manipulating and protecting information across a site’s applications, and building enterprise-wide information repositories that should provide integrated views of information assets. It’s here that enterprise content-management or policy-based automation is implemented. EMC recently acquired RSA Security and subsequently changed its tag-line from “where information lives” to “where information lives securely”.


HP positions its offerings not as a storage strategy but as an extension of a business strategy, linking processes, policies, technologies and products in specific implementations to control information capture, management, retention and delivery. Not surprisingly, ILM addresses more than digital data-storage for HP. It also includes a wide range of other non-digital content from such business tools as mobile phones and PDAs — a slant that leverages the company’s expertise in imaging, printing and personal systems.

HP’s products include a hardware and software mix of both homegrown and partner-developed applications. Particular attention is paid to data capture (handheld, laptop, imaging products), management (data protection, data migration, resource management), retention (backup, email, CDP, electronic vaulting) and delivery (document delivery and hosted solutions).


HDS has tiered hardware and management products for open systems, mainframes and network-attached storage (NAS). It emphasises data replication and moving data non-disruptively across the various storage tiers, using its virtualisation controllers as a front-end to the external storage systems.

When it comes to ILM, HDS collaborates extensively with Arkivio, StoredIQ and a number of other partners to provide a comprehensive offering. HDS’ contribution is the hardware (particularly storage devices and virtualisation controllers) and the storage-resource management software (its HiCommand suite, which manages discovery, tuning, tiering and a number of other aspects of storage) that enable policy-based automated storage movement across storage tiers. The company also provides a suite of business-continuity tools that create data copies, replicating them across local heterogeneous tiers of storage and out to remote recovery sites.


For the past several years, on-demand computing and data access have been the basis of IBM’s enterprise business strategy. The company recognises that ILM plays a key role in successfully delivering information on-demand.

ILM offerings are broken into four solution areas: application and database archiving, data lifecycle management, email archiving and enterprise content management.

IBM has also created a number of hardware-software packages, some offering generalised ILM services and others specifically attuned to the requirements of vertical markets. The DR550, for example, comes preconfigured and integrated to help store, retrieve and manage regulated and non-regulated data.

Sun Microsystems

Sun approaches ILM by linking business intent (as expressed in plans, requirements and service-level agreements), operational processes (policy management and data classification) and storage management. The company offers both software and hardware products, but third-party offerings are also part of the mix.

Sun sorts its ILM offerings into four categories: security management (including role-based access management, authentication and encryption), retention management (compliance requirements, managing reference information, archiving, tiered storage and access controls), continuous data protection and infrastructure optimisation.

Sun’s Virtual Storage Manager underpins much of this, as does a content-management product that provides a single point of access for managing most types of electronic records. Probably most important is Sun’s SAM-FS software, which provides data classification, centralised metadata management, policy-based data placement, protection, migration, long-term retention and recovery technology.


Mostly through its Veritas-developed products, Symantec has focused on archiving, storage management and data protection, though not within the context of ILM. Each of these, however, is an important aspect of ILM, and Symantec is changing to meet the times. It has recently concentrated much effort on managing email and other forms of unstructured electronic content, building a product-set to provide secure, searchable online archives, particularly in the email space.

This centralised archive is crucial to Symantec’s approach to ILM — no surprise considering the company’s history in volume-management. From this centralised archive it can address several of the forces that drive ILM adoption, particularly regulatory compliance, legal requirements management and improving the organisation’s ability to find information.

The heart of the Symantec ILM offering is an email capture and management package integrating mailbox management, regulatory compliance and eDiscovery. Symantec solutions are software-only, but they interoperate with just about all vendor hardware.

Karp is a senior analyst with Enterprise Management Associates. He can be reached at

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