By Karen S. Henrie Print this article Print

The value of information changes over time, and information lifecycle management is designed helps companies take advantage of those changes. But integration woes remain.


Legal and regulatory challenges, and IT storage costs, are spurring ILM implementations.
U.S. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer comes knocking at your company's door. He wants to take a look through your e-mail archives. Is your IT department prepared to comply with his request? Are you afraid of what he might find if it does? According to Rosalind Conway, manager of information document retention services with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in New York City, Spitzer was among the first to exploit e-mail as an investigative avenue for corporate malfeasance, and many others have since followed suit. "Spitzer figured out e-mail is the Achilles' heel of the folks he went after. Then other regulatory agencies and plaintiff's attorneys jumped on the bandwagon," she says.

The most promising solution to the problems created by such legal and regulatory challenges—not to mention the need to manage the glut of unstructured corporate information—may be what's being called information lifecycle management, or ILM. ILM involves a set of policies, processes and tools used to align the business value of information with the most appropriate and cost-effective IT infrastructure, from the time that information is created to the time it is destroyed.

Says Dave Russell, a research director with Gartner Inc.: "ILM won't tell you what data to retain for regulatory compliance. But it can help you to retain appropriately, so information can be produced if the company is subpoenaed." Conway points out that "a growing body of case law is evolving from companies that were blindsided by their lack of a records-retention program."

Though many CIOs use the specter of regulatory breaches or litigation to justify ILM investments, the IT department has its own reasons. For one, ILM helps IT comply with its service-level agreements with business users for such critical business requirements as recovery times and application performance. Bill Graff, director of CernerWorks, the hosting division of Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner Corp., a $1.2 billion provider of healthcare IT services, says ILM helps him meet his contractual obligations with the hospitals and other healthcare providers his company serves. "We were signing contracts that demanded we provide higher availability on production systems," including applications for lab results, drug interaction results and physician order entry, among others. "We needed an infrastructure that could accommodate those contracts, while also letting us better manage the costs of the business. We have 1.5 petabytes of spinning disk storage, and that's grown by 750 terabytes since last year."

Cerner isn't alone in its desire to curtail spiraling storage costs. According to Gartner, the worldwide market for storage-management software licenses totaled $5.6 billion in 2004 and is growing at a compound annual rate of more than 10 percent. While ILM can help to cut certain storage-related costs, a complete ILM implementation will likely result in a net cost increase. Mike Workman, CEO of San Jose, Calif.-based Pillar Data Systems Inc., a network storage company, cautions that "ILM doesn't save you money. It just lets you exploit the information your company owns."

Ask your chief compliance officer:

Which documents have a regulatory requirement attached to them?

Ask your IT managers:

How can the IT department use ILM to cut costs and better serve business users?

Story Guide:

  • Strategy
  • Implementation
  • Results
  • Future

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    This article was originally published on 2012-05-08
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