Today, I'll continue briefing you about my recent meetings with IBM's storage executives. The company has been generally silent on the topic of information lifecycle management, a curious position given the buzz in the marketplace that surrounds the topic.\u00a0 Also, of course, we should consider the fact that IBM invented many of the hierarchical storage management (HSM) concepts on which some fundamental aspects of ILM are based.\u00a0It turns out that, along with a focus on simplifying the infrastructure and ensuring business continuity, ILM seems to have become one of the foundation stones of IBM's storage strategy.\u00a0 So silence didn't mean IBM wasn't thinking about the topic.\u00a0 Or developing products.\u00a0From what I have seen so far, IBM is focusing on the compliance issues associated with managing the information lifecycle, and most particularly on developing products that address requirements linked to data retention and retrieval.\u00a0Already ILM-appropriate products are moving through the pipeline, and in some cases have been on the street for a while.\u00a0 Most notable that I saw are:* WORM (write once, read many) capability for the 3592 tape drive.\u00a0 You'll be surprised at how much intelligence IBM has moved onto the media.* The IBM TotalStorage Data Retention 450 (DR450), a currently-shipping tiered storage appliance that includes Tivoli Storage Manager for Data Retention. The latter can take several WORM devices including the 3592 and move data among its various levels of storage devices in a manner that is transparent to the user.\u00a0* The FAStT100, a SATA-based storage server aimed for near line storage-uses, and which looks to provide yet another useful tier to the list of IBM offerings.It is clear that ILM is more than an afterthought with IBM; it is a strategic initiative.\u00a0 I'll share some of my thoughts on this as soon as I have the opportunity to dive more deeply into the company's strategy and offerings.\u00a0One thing that is more noticeable this year than in the past is the effort spent to make the Tivoli software division a more integrated part of the corporation.\u00a0 Plenty of lip service was paid to this in the past, but we are starting to see much better coordination between Tivoli product rollouts and the product planning of the other groups.\u00a0IBM's Virtualization Engine technology is moving into both storage and servers this year, and should be expected to play a leading role in the company's efforts to simplify management of heterogeneous mixed environments.\u00a0 As far as storage is concerned, this technology will appear in a number of products, including IBM's SAN Volume Controller, the SAN File System, and the Productivity Center.\u00a0 The Virtualization Engine has pieces of Tivoli's storage provisioning capability built in.Finally, a joint announcement between IBM and Cisco indicates that Cisco's Intelligent Gigabit Ethernet Switch Module can now be built into an IBM BladeCenter system, which should add value when it comes to simplifying IT topologies and managing IT systems, including the storage that may hang off the switch.\u00a0 Additionally, Tivoli announced that its Provisioning manager and SAN Manager can provision and optimize utilization of Cisco switches.Let's see how this works out.\u00a0 This should be a fairly easy exhibition for those of you who enjoy watching giants learn to dance together.To sum up, it looks as if IBM has seriously undertaken a number of integration efforts. It has brought together the system and technology sides of the company, Tivoli products are appearing as baked-in modules of new IBM solutions, and IBM is working seriously with Cisco.\u00a0 We'll just have to wait to see if all this results in the level of simplified IT infrastructure that we'd all like.