IDC: ILM still a mystery to most Canadian companies

TORONTO — Although IDC Canada analyst Alan Freedman said he’s never heard a catch phrase take hold as quickly in an industry as information lifecycle management, the storage strategy is still drawing few devoted followers in the country.

EMC Corp., which has included the adoption of ILM in its

mission statement, describes the discipline as cost-effectively managing information from the time it’s created right through its use, storage and destruction.

Instead of thinking about storage as an afterthought, more customers now view it as a critical business asset, a trend being driven by the growth of information, explained Chris Gahagan, senior vice-president of storage management software at EMC Corp. in Hopkinton, Mass.

“”Virtually everything is being digitized.””

Gahagan was speaking in Toronto at the first EMC conference focused on ILM to be held in Canada. The company’s ILM conference circuit will also include a few American cities and a stop in Brazil.

Prompted by new technologies such as RFID, an explosion of information is imminent and will be best managed by companies that properly align their data resources around the most valuable information, Gahagan said.

Yet, rolling out an ILM strategy to manage corporate data is “”not something you do in an all-in-one, gigantic step,”” he said. Companies must assess and plan, deploy certain pieces of ILM and decide how well the plan worked, he said.

In Canada, only four per cent of firms have deployed a complete ILM strategy, with expectations another five per cent will adopt the approach this year, according to Freedman, research manager of infrastructure hardware at Toronto-based IDC Canada. He said the balance of companies may not be using a true solution or may have rolled out only “”a piece of an ILM solution.””

Although it’s a new business tactic few people understand, there has been “”quite a lot of talk about ILM, and more mainstream solutions are coming to market,”” Freedman said.

Ross Allen, managing director of Canadian operations at Toronto-based EMC Corp. of Canada, said holding EMC’s first ILM forum in Canada is part of “”evangelizing our message to our customers.””

This message revolves around ILM’s ability to cut costs, simplify computing information and improve access to information, Allen said.

It’s also being relayed through an EMC Canada e-newsletter, EMC inSite Canada, launched last May.

IT focuses on ILM through discussions of customer success stories, white papers and product information.

Allen said certain industry sectors such as medicine, finance and the public sector have more readily integrated ILM because they need to archive large volumes of data and comply with industry-specific laws.

In the health-care industry, Fraser Health Authority, Hotel Dieu Hospital, Interior Health Authority, Kingston General Hospital, the Scarborough Hospital and Trillium Health Centre have been adopters of ILM-related approaches through EMC Canada; Vancouver City Savings Credit Union represents an ILM user in the financial sector.

Indeed, one of the challenges facing Canadian organizations is new compliance requirements that will help become a driver of ILM, said Allen.

EMC has said regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley in the U.S. now rule the ways corporate e-mail and online communications are managed.

In Canada, EMC explained firms must comply with legislation such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

As the value of information changes, it is wise to move data to different types of storage media offering the best protection, duplication and recovery at the cheapest cost, explained EMC.

Although Allen said there is a “”financial aspect”” prompting companies to comply with myriad laws, a “”lack of clarity on what compliance means”” has made it difficult for them.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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