I've been giving my house a thorough spring-cleaning lately, and it made me wonder how often IT administrators clean their storage systems. Maybe you did a great job of cleaning out and organizing your organization's data when you installed that SAN (storage area network) last year. You moved all those files that were never accessed to tape, moved your noncritical data to ATA (advanced technology attachment) disk, and deleted those annoying music files the accounting intern had saved. But, what processes are in place to keep your system running efficiently?
If you put all the effort and expense into creating a productive networked storage system, you need processes that will protect your work. This is the heart of information lifecycle management (ILM). One way to implement ILM is to use automated software to manage your data. These programs will automatically move data from high performance Fibre Channel disks to ATA or serial ATA and then to tape based on a specific set of rules. This may be a good option for you if you have several SANs and a few NAS (network attached storage) devices, too.
On the other hand, if you don't have many storage devices or the budget for the automatic software, you need to develop ILM processes to migrate data as it ages and its importance changes. These processes should be structured to evaluate data on a periodic schedule, such as every six months or annually. If your company's projects last 18 months, then you may want to base your evaluations on project completion.
There has been quite a bit of discussion about ILM and whether it's just a hyped-up marketing term or a critical advancment in storage technology. Either way, you need some structured process to manage your data because if you don't, you may end up with another 250 GB of music files on your Fibre Channel drives.