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Keep Tabs on Storage

New solutions under the IBM Service Management strategy aim to increase business efficiency as well as increase accountability and auditability.

Illustration by James Yang

Businesses have a history of working to automate manufacturing and supply-chain operations. Just within the last couple of decades, we've seen the emergence of such concepts as ERP and customer relationship management (CRM), both of which are intended to increase business efficiency.

IT management, by comparison, has had a brief time to likewise evolve and automate itself, although by its very nature it's been adapting and improving. Today, data storage is taking center stage. As little as 10 years ago data storage was an expensive and, by extension, an often prohibitive technology. Today 8 GB of storage is just an iPod away, and IT shops have gone from taking on terabytes to pondering petabytes.

Although the falling costs of data storage have contributed to the rise of high capacity storage, the need for that storage has been increasing in the last few years. Among the many reasons for growth include the compliance and regulatory requirements for keeping data longer, a growth in online collaboration through such electronic media as e-mail, instant messaging and online forums, and new types of media emerging and being used more prevalently, such as digital video and digital images - including images of paper forms and medical images (e.g., digital X-rays and MRIs).

"One of the important dynamics at work here, other than trying to align your IT with your business strategy, centers around all the regulations you keep hearing about," says Shawn Jaques, IBM* Tivoli* storage market manager. "If you're in a regulated industry, like financial services or insurance, for example, you may be required to prove you have documented procedures for data retention and that you're following those procedures when you're performing your activities, whatever those activities may be. New document-retention requirements are often requiring that data be stored longer and time periods may be based on events that vary - such as in the case of patient records that must be stored for a period of time after a patient's death."

The IBM IT Service Management

Through its Service Management strategy, IBM aims to equip customers with the necessary tools for aligning business insight and technological innovations, focusing on methods for optimizing the interworking of critical business areas. As it applies to storage, the strategy focuses on how data is stored in different locations and used by different applications.

"IBM Service Management is about helping customers enhance efficiency and effectiveness in their IT department as they would other parts of their businesses," says Jaques. "It used to be you had all these other business parts that were automated and the IT department just did whatever it could to keep up with business requirements without looking inward to ascertain how to improve its own processes. Processes like provisioning new storage or building new servers were often done manually or inconsistently without regard to the potential impact to the critical business systems they were going to support. IBM addresses that, particularly in the data storage-management space."

Ryan Rhodes is a freelance writer for IBM Systems Magazine.

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Keep Tabs on Storage

New solutions under the IBM Service Management strategy aim to increase business efficiency as well as increase accountability and auditability.

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