Vendors' ILM strategies lack meat

* Where are the ILM deliverables?

Those of you who have been reading this newsletter over the years may remember that I was an early convert to the concept of Information Lifecycle Management.  ILM's promise after all has always been to make IT more cost efficient, and who among us is going to argue with something like that?

ILM today is a long way from fulfilling its promise. The problem to date has been that while several companies have expended a lot of effort trying to define what ILM means, the vendors have come up pretty short when it comes time to deliver the goods.

Of course ILM is a most significant technology trend, and it is both complex and, conceptually, still in a state of flux.  And these are early days in its development. Even the most unrealistic of us shouldn't expect everything to be delivered at once.

But should we be accepting of the fact that, after about two years of discussions, ILM is still only being measured out to us in coffee spoons? The overall concept of ILM - what it is, how it can be efficiently implemented, and  what sort of benefits we should expect it to deliver - ought to have been thrashed out by now.

Consider the following: Whichever vendor may be doing the talking, it always seems that the definition of ILM - whatever that may happen to be - is quite willing to acknowledge two things as basic ILM precepts. These are: First, that ILM is a mix of both product and process; second, that no one company can provide every aspect of ILM.

When you think about it, this sort of definition is both self-serving and anodyne. "Self-serving" because, if a company doesn't have the products, it always seems that its strategy for ILM is heavily tilted in favor of process. (This product-process mix seems to shift back in favor of product as the quarters roll by - I'll bet you can guess why.)

I say "anodyne" because it does, after all, say nothing.  The reality is that whatever we do in IT is always a mix of process and product. And who but the most foolish among us would entertain the idea of buying a technology from only a single source?

So let's assume that both the question about the process-product mix and the point about multiple vendors are both placeholders. Even though vendors may not yet have much beyond a few clues as to what their ILM product mix is going to be, these two points provide opportunities for vendors that haven't yet thought out this whole ILM thing to be seen as players that have adopted a strategic direction. It would be nice to have more to go on.

CA, EMC, HP and IBM have been tinkering with ILM strategies for some time now.  HP has publicly defined its strategy for ILM, putting some flesh on the bones.  Next time we'll see what it had to say.

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