HP and storage startup set sights on ILM

HP and storage startup set sights on ILM

HP did it again. I was hoping to persuade Hewlett-Packard (and other vendors too, to be fair) to make small, focused, perhaps more frequent announcements, instead of opening the fire hose every six months or so.

Well, it didn't happen. If you read the recent story from Shelley Solheim, you'll see what I mean: Not only did HP come out with more news than I can possibly spell out in this space, but the announcements are also centered (most of them appropriately) around the information lifecycle management (ILM) moniker.

"This is a launch of a lot, and I mean a lot, of products that are storage-centric," emphasizes Frank Harbist, vice president and general manager of ILM and storage software for HP's StorageWorks Division.

"There are three key things that this launch represents: the completion of the archival portion of our ILM strategy, extending our data-protection strategy, and introducing the new domain of continuous data protection," Harbist says.

Not surprisingly, a large part of the announcement is about StorageWorks RISS (Reference Information Storage System) a unique, grid-based, multipurpose archival system of which HP is understandably proud. Check out my review of the RISS-based e-mail archiving solution for a deeper look.

The new version, RISS 1.5, should ship by the end of June. It increases the capacity of its basic unit (the smart cell) to 1.4GB, which obviously translates into significantly more archiving capacity and density.

In addition to a larger bucket, RISS 1.5 sports a new technology to compress data by storing file fragments that have the same content only once. HP calls this new technology BSI (block single instancing), but you wouldn't be wrong to think of it as de-duplication. Harbist says BSI can shrink archived data to 25 percent, based on HP's preliminary testing.

Customers will need that improved capacity and compression because later this year HP is also adding the capability to archive database records and files to RISS.

"We can create an encapsulated archive [of selected database records] in XML format and store it into RISS," Harbist explains, adding that customers will be able to use RISS's query features to search this unified archiving system for messages, database records, and files.

Other products and technologies mentioned in HP's announcement flood are also important, such as continuous data protection and a new storage virtualization appliance to rival EMC's Invista and IBM's SVC, but I think their link to ILM is rather tenuous.

Instead, I'll introduce you to Scentric, a startup just stepping out in the open with a first product, Destiny, that seems entirely focused on facilitating ILM and compliance.

"Destiny addresses the need to have more intelligence in the data management process for people pursuing an ILM strategy and pursuing compliance issues," says Larry Cormier, senior vice president of marketing at Scentric.

"We believe this is the first solution looking at all data types including files, e-mail, e-mail attachments, and databases," Cormier continues.

Hmm ... to me, it sounds like it has something in common with HP's RISS: a focus on corralling all data types.

Destiny takes a three-step approach to intelligent data management: inventory and create a catalog of all company data; let users aggregate and classify information; and finally, define policies to move data, for example to a different storage tier or group of devices.

"We spent a lot of time to create a simple and intuitive interface because classification is a collaborative effort of IT people, compliance officers, and business units," Cormier explains. He adds that business users can iterate on defining rules until satisfied, leaving the task of actually moving data according to those rules to IT.

"We have basic file moving capabilities, but we are more focused on providing that intelligence layer that is not there today," Cormier says.

I don't see a problem with that: If Scentric can establish Destiny as a reliable intelligence gathering and data classification tool, other vendors will gladly bundle it with their own data-moving muscle. "We are talking to all the three-letter-acronym vendors," Cormier jokes.

I don't doubt that for a moment.

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