ILM Gets Personal

By Virginia Citrano Print this article Print

Information lifecycle management helps companies handle the data deluge by providing a framework for classifying stored information, finding the right storage technology, creating retention guidelines and managing costs.


ILM Gets Personal

Helen of Troy is trying to do ILM right. The Hamilton, Bermuda-based company might seem like an unlikely target of compliance and data-archiving issues; it sells personal care products under brand names such as Vidal Sassoon and Revlon, as well as OXO-brand kitchen gadgets—not financial services or prescription drugs. But as a publicly traded company, Helen of Troy must adhere to all Sarbanes-Oxley Act regulations for financial reporting and accountability.

With sales topping $634 million for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007—and with data growing by as much as 500 GB a year—the company realized it had to get a handle on how information about orders, inventory and receivables was backed up and archived from its main Oracle database. The company also needed to make information retrieval easier for internal and external auditors, who examine data-retention policies, wireless security, credit-card encryption and archive integrity.

As it began to craft its ILM strategy, Helen of Troy had one key advantage: Only 35 percent of the data it was looking to manage was unstructured, according to Pedro T. Contreras, vice president of information technology. The bulk of its data was structured by its worldwide enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. “ERP forces a structure on the data,” says Contreras, based in El Paso, Texas. “But you still have factors. And some people just have a hard time giving up paper copies.”

After vetting several vendors, Helen of Troy selected enterprise data management provider Solix Technologies and its ARCHIVEjinni product. Solix is a relatively young company—it was founded in 2001 in Sunnyvale, Calif.—but it had established a strategic partnership with Oracle, which meant ARCHIVEjinni was already integrated with the Oracle modules that Helen of Troy was using.

Helen of Troy worked through each aspect of its operations to define data-classification and information-retention policies. Contreras says the evaluation matrix that evolved covers factors such as ownership of data, how often it needs to be accessed and by whom, as well as how and where the data is stored. “You can’t break the ILM rules,” Contreras says.

You can break the power grid, however, which is why companies are increasingly looking at cutting energy consumption as part of their overall ILM strategies. Ever-rising volumes of data are running into ever-rising utility costs. By controlling power usage, a company can stretch a tight storage budget to fit more data and make itself more environmentally responsible in the process.

This article was originally published on 2008-01-30
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