EMC tolls the ILM bell, again

EMC tolls the ILM bell, again

Whatever you think of EMC, you should give the company credit for at least one virtue: perseverance. In fact, since the very first briefings I had with them years ago, EMC has been a relentless and vocal advocate of ILM (information lifecycle management) strategy, both in person-to-person talks and with product announcements.

Last week's announcement in London was no exception. EMC heralded several significant new products -- or extensions to existing products -- covering (take a deep breath if you're reading this out loud) increased capacity of as much as 1 petabyte for its admiral storage array, the Symmetrix DMX-3; a unified storage solution delivered via Celerra gateways that brings together block serving and file serving over iSCSI; a common namespace for differing file systems consolidated via the recently acquired Rainfinity Global File Virtualization; and some new compliance capabilities for information stored on the Centera platform.

Trying to quickly recap the announcement is a mouthful. Suffice it to say that EMC had to issue a master press release pointing at other documents just to sum up the news.

Wondering whether all that relates to ILM, as EMC suggests? Well it does -- sort of.

EMC's obsession with that particular TLA (three-letter acronym) brings to mind the old joke, "If you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail." To EMC, everything resembles an ILM enhancer, even things such as the increased capacity of the DMX-3, that are rather loosely (if at all) related to ILM.

However, don't let my skepticism sway you. The EMC site has a comprehensive set of pages on ILM that provides its side of the story. On that site you'll also find a sweepingly wide definition of ILM. Here is an excerpt: "Based on its changing value to your organization, your information requires different levels of accessibility and protection. That's ILM."

Of course, based on that definition, just about anything can be a legitimate tool for enforcing your ILM strategy. Does the somewhat loose link with ILM diminish the importance of what EMC is announcing? Not in the least, in my view.

Take for example the Celerra-based unified storage offering, dubbed MPFSi (Multi-Path File System for iSCSI). EMC promises file-serving performance four times faster than with traditional NAS systems, which is a benefit worth pursuing even if you don't give a toot about ILM.

Another example: If you are stuck with a handful or more of separate file systems that are screaming to be consolidated under common management, bringing everything together under the wide Rainfinity umbrella can be an easy and painless solution.

I could make a similar case for the other products touched by the news, but I'll ask you a question instead: Does the ILM reference get your attention, or is it a rather annoying and unwanted spin to a product announcement?

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