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HP Buys ILM Maker OuterBay
By Lisa Vaas

Hewlett-Packard is buying OuterBay, a maker of information lifecycle management software that culls inactive data from databases to make a leaner, swifter, less expensive way to administer production databases.

OuterBay’s ADM (Application Data Management) Suite relocates inactive data—what users may consider closed transactions—to less expensive servers and storage technologies, while retaining user and application transparency.


OuterBay and HP already have a tight relationship. In September, the two signed a worldwide technology and distribution agreement under which OuterBay’s ADM Suite would be resold by HP.

The OuterBay purchase is part of HP’s strategy to bolster its server, storage and software offerings, HP said in a release. Other recent purchases with the same goal in mind were HP’s purchase of storage vendor AppIQ and its buy of asset management and IT service management provider Peregrine Systems, both announced in September.

With OuterBay, HP plans to help organizations get a handle on database growth and improve database performance by up to 80 percent. This will help HP expand its footprint with customers deploying Oracle, SQL Server and Sybase databases, along with enterprise applications including Oracle’s E-Business Suite, SAP and PeopleSoft.

Charlie Garry, a former Meta Group vice president and currently a consultant, said HP’s move for OuterBay is indicative of impending consolidation in the ILM (information lifecycle management) space. Years ago, Garry predicted that the ILM market would hit $2.2 billion by 2007, but it’s “not even close” to that size now, he said, given that organizations have been focusing more on e-mail archiving in the current compliance-heavy environment.

As far as database or application archiving goes, none of the vendors has talked a good-enough game to make the ILM market grow, Garry said. “It never jumped into the mainstream thought that this is a fundamental process we should be doing to maintain overall performance of our infrastructure and stay as agile as possible,” he said.

But when you look carefully at streamlining of databases, it’s a no-brainer, Garry said, since it impacts not only performance but also costs associated with maintenance and administration of ever-larger databases.

The reason enterprises aren’t doing it boils down to the old canard: Storage is cheap. “One [IT manager who’s a client], high up at Avon, he said, ‘I dunno, we had [an ILM vendor] in here, and we looked at it, but we decided storage is cheap,'” Garry recounted. “‘But if I had known it did all the things you just told me it does …'”

PointerEMC unveils a number of storage and virtualization products designed to enhance information lifecycle management capabilities. Click here to read more.

ILM actually sprang from storage vendors who foretold the dropping revenue that comes along with the concept that storage is cheap. Obviously, many of the ILM offerings have been storage-centric, given its beginnings.

But the concepts of things such as e-mail archiving have little to do with ILM and how it interacts with applications and databases, Garry said. Whereas e-mail archiving solutions just make a copy of every e-mail that comes in or out or an organization, having no impact on saving storage or having nothing to do with improving performance in the database space, ILM is all about looking at and determining through complex business rules what data doesn’t need to be in a production database any longer, since it’s not being accessed much or at all.

Moving inactive data from a production database into an archive means the production instance of the database is smaller. It performs better, it can be backed up better, and it’s less costly to manage. If this isn’t done, databases get bigger, requiring more time to tune and to keep performing acceptably.

Garry referred to Solix, another ILM player that’s thinking even bigger. Solix is looking at database subsetting, for example, meaning technology that allows uses to take a small but referentially intact chunk of data from a live production database—a working subset, in other words.

So instead of having to copy an entire 3-terabyte database for a given sales region to write reports on, for example, users can store a subset that’s maybe 3GB, is still valid and still lets users work with it.

Garry challenges the idea that storage is cheap, at any rate. He’s set to give a speech at an ILM forum next week in which he will display numbers he’s crunched regarding how much enterprises are spending on unorganized data maintenance and administration.

It isn’t pretty. For example, Garry recently worked with one client who complained about spending too much on Oracle licenses. After Garry checked out the client’s systems, he reported that it was costing the customer some $10 million annually to maintain the databases, given system administrators and database administrators. It was five times what the customer was spending on Oracle licenses, he said.

Given the rising awareness of the problem, Garry predicts we’ll see more consolidation in the ILM space.

EMC in particular is now in a “tough spot and will need to acquire someone,” Garry said. He pointed to Solix, Princeton Softech and Applimation as being possible buys.

PointerCheck out eWEEK.com’s Database Center for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.



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