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The Challenges of Information Lifecycle Management

IT organizations (ITOs) today face a number of difficult challenges that at the highest level can be summarized in the phrase “doing more with less”. ITOs are facing three major pressures on their budgeting and plans:

  1. Global competition, which puts a premium on highly efficient operations,
  2. The advent of Cloud services that offer lower cost and greater flexibility, particularly in the business’s ability to respond to unexpected events in a volatile business and financial environment, and,
  3. The present weak economic recovery and in particular the continued lack of capital in the financial markets and slow business growth overall.

This environment has put a premium on operational efficiency, and one major target in the data center is the huge growth in data volumes, which puts pressure in particular on capital expenditure budgets. The old “brute force” approach of buying more and more expensive tier 1 storage systems to accommodate the huge growth in data of all kinds, most of which is scarcely accessed, would not work in a world of increasing budgetary constraints. This data explosion issue has several symptoms:

  • CIOs report that as much as 80% of the data in production databases is no longer in active use. This data:
    • Drives capital expense for extra Tier 1 disks and larger servers,
    • Slows performance of enterprise applications such as ERP and CRM by as much as 50%,
    • Forces expansion of backup windows to the point that backups of major databases cannot be completed in a single session,
    • Complicates recovery and delays restoration of central business IT services in the event of a disaster.
  • Obsolescent applications linger on in the data center long after their active life has ended because their data is still needed for compliance and internal business uses:
    • Gartner estimates that as much as 10% of the applications running in unoptimized data centers are candidates for retirement.
    • These applications require expensive hardware, including in some cases mainframe systems.
    • They also require expensive staff attention and in some cases increasingly rare and obsolescent skill sets such as COBOL programming.
    • This hardware consumes valuable resources in data centers, including floor space, power, and cooling, which shortens the life of the data center.
    • The result is a huge drain on IT budgets that businesses cannot afford.
  • Test, QA, and training environments require extra capital investment in hardware to accommodate these ever growing databases:
    • Manual cloning takes too long and too much staff time, making it a very inefficient process.
    • In most cases, even after production databases are optimized full database clones are not required for these environments.
    • Therefore, these clones waste resources that IT cannot afford in the present economic and business environment.
  • These non-production database clones contain very sensitive data, often including personal information on company clients and employees, and therefore they create an often unrecognized security exposure.
    • These environments are seldom secure.
    • A loss of sensitive data, particularly information on clients, could have a major negative impact on the enterprise.

The ILM Opportunity

As is often the case, however, these problems are also opportunities to cut costs and improve efficiency by applying information lifecycle management (ILM) best practices using a more sophisticated strategy to data management backed by best-of-breed ILM tools:

  • The solution to data growth for structured databases is data archiving driven by business rules.
    • Effective data archiving moves older, inactive data out of the production database to appropriate storage tiers based on business rules.
      • For instance, data more than 180 days old might be archived to Tier 2 storage.
      • Data more than six years old could move to tape or other removable media.
    • Archived data should preserve all context, vital for preserving meaning in complex data sets from enterprise systems such as ERP and CRM.
    • It should be preserved in read-only, immutable format to meet compliance requirements.
    • It should be de-duplicated and compressed to occupy the smallest possible space consistent with lossless data preservation.
    • It should be available for inclusion in reports and research including decision support, trend analysis, and compliance audits.
  • Data archiving, in this case of entire databases, is also the key to retiring obsolete applications, a key part of application portfolio management, which Gartner and other experts have long advocated as the most effective approach for effective data center management.
  • Cloning for testing and other needs should focus on efficient, automated subsetting that creates databases that are large enough to support the needs of the particular process without wasting IT resources.
    • The tool should also support automated, single-pass cloning to provide an efficient process and not waste expensive staff time.
  • Data security needs demand effective data masking to protect sensitive data in database clones.
    • The masking tool should offer a choice of methods including encryption, replacement with random sets of letters, numbers and symbols, and overwriting with repetitive numbers and letters (e.g. XXXX, 99999).
    • It should preserve data formats to support testing and similar processes.
    • It should be applicable by column or row.

Solix Enterprise Data Management SuiteTM

Enterprise Data Management Suite

Solix Technologies has developed best-of-breed information lifecycle management solutions to meet all of these needs of the modern data center.  Solix Technologies’ leading-edge products fit into four categories:

  • Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)
    • Solix EDMS Database Archiving: Part of the Solix Enterprise Data Management Suite (EDMS), it supports all ILM best practices.
  • Application Portfolio Management:
    • Solix EDMS Application Retirement: Also part of EDMS, it automates the end-to-end database archiving and retirement process, allowing IT to retire obsolescent applications while preserving the important business data with its full context in a managed, secure manner.
    • The Solix ExAPPS Appliance: The industry's first application retirement appliance, this is an integrated, plug-and-play hardware/software solution for application retirement including a built-in database with deduplication and massive compression capabilities (90% data compression) to store archived data securely, and fast query and reporting tools to support access to the archived data.
  • Application Testing
    • Solix EDMS Test Data Management: Automates single-pass database cloning and database subsetting, creating the right sized subset of each database for testing, development, QA, and outsourcing.
    • Solix EDMS Data Masking: Protects sensitive data fields in database clones and subsets by either encrypting, scrambling, or redacting data byte-by-byte with repeated characters and numerals while preserving the original data format so that the database will function properly in tests.

Solix EDMS and Solix ExApps define best-of-breed ILM practices as verified by:

  • The vendors who rebrand and sell it as part of their product suites under OEM agreements, including:
    • Oracle
    • VoltageSecurity
  • Its list of certifications from leading vendors for core products including:
    • Oracle e-Business Suite R 12.1
    • PeopleSoft R 9.0
    • JD Edwards Enterprise One R 8.12
    • Siebel CRM 8.1
    • Hitachi’s HCAP
    • EMC Centera
    • NetApp FlexClone
    • IBM DR 550