Information life-cycle management
APART FROM ILM standing for Industrial Light and Magic – the Hollywood wizards behind the special effects of Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter – it also stands for Information Lifecycle Management.
ILM deals with how digital information gets shunted around a big corporation and more specifically how it gets stored. The choices made are typically dependent on how fast people in the company need to access the information.
If, for example, a toy manufacturer gets a contract to sell 1m dolls to a large retail chain, all the documentation regarding the deal must be immediately accessible until the delivery is complete. This would be the equivalent of keeping it all in a file in your office. If there are any queries you would be able to pull it down and check it immediately.
Once the contract has been completed, the file could be moved to the filing cabinet down the hallway and finally, when it was clear you didn’t need that information any more, it could be sent to a big document warehouse where accessing it could take weeks.
This is the way it used to work with paper. Now imagine instead of paper you are dealing with an electronic document. With the new laws governing the storing and access of information, companies are being told how long they have to keep information and how fast they have to be able to retrieve it in the case of a query.
Typically, ILM involves putting rules in place that automate moving the information, first on to the fastest systems, assuming that the people who are using the information need to access it quickly, then on to slower systems that may take a little longer to respond, and then on to a tape which is finally sent off to a warehouse.
What users would be left with is a note that the information exists but if they actually want to read the email or document, then they would have to put in a request for it to be retrieved. The further down the system the specific information has moved, the longer it will take to retrieve.
Depending on the type of organisation involved, the information will be kept forever or destroyed.