Pitfalls to avoid

Many IT managers move into uncharted waters when they begin ILM projects. When ancient mariners sailed into the unknown, the edges of their charts were often marked "here monsters be." Here are some suggestions to keep your project from falling off the map.

* All data is not necessarily valuable. Some starts out valuable and loses value along the way. Some never has value to begin with. Don't invest time and budget protecting what your company does not value.

* Don't get fooled. ILM is not a product, but a mix of products, processes and services. No matter what some vendors may tell you, tiered storage alone isn't ILM. It's just tiered storage. Don't forget the importance of two other key ingredients: data classification and automation.

* Don't get locked in to a single vendor, unless it is clear the vendor has all the technology you will need for the foreseeable future, and unless you are sure about the vendor's future. A great product from a vendor who isn't there next year is a questionable investment at best.

* Don't depend on service-level agreements (SLA) to define compliance issues during the first round of an ILM implementation. In many cases, department managers may have known nothing about these issues when the service-level objectives were originally defined. As the SLA process matures, compliance and other subtle requirements will begin to influence how service levels are defined.

* If your company keeps data on desktop machines, make accommodation for that in your plans. As far as regulatory issues are concerned, corporate responsibility extends to all data, and not just to data on a server.

* Ditto for remote offices and home offices - include them in your planning.

* Don't forget to engage with the various lines of business early in the process.

* Don't be naïve about project length. At some sites, an ILM implementation can stretch on for years, which in some cases is at least as long as it takes your accounting department to write down your initial investment. As far as budgets are concerned, by the time you're done, it's time to start over.

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