Abundance of Redundancies
Tiered storage helps insurers manage information effectively, explains Deloitte's Montgomery. "There is so much information insurers have to hold on to for compliance reasons, and a lot of the data is redundant," he notes. "So, many executives are looking for ways to wrap their arms around it."
Automating data migration among tiers of storage is an option that Bob Venable, manager of enterprise systems at Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee (BCBSTN; $2.3 billion in total premium), is investigating. His goal: Manage storage more efficiently by eliminating redundant applications and documents. Having seen other carriers make investments that haven't shown much return, however, Venable is concerned about avoiding ILM hype. "The industry seems to be making a headlong rush toward tiered storage, and the danger is that carriers are winding up with more applications to manage," he explains.
Venable describes his current storage environment as a massively shared infrastructure in which IBM's DB2 Content Manager and Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) share the same disk, library and backup systems. "This year, we are looking for a cross-platform solution," Venable says. "So far, we have done real well at managing everything manually, but a content-addressable file system would automate that process, making it more efficient."
To find the best storage solution for the company, Venable formed an internal group in which members from human resources, legal, IT and the business department collaborate. "We formed the group back in 2004 to come up with a cost-effective solution that would benefit all parties involved," he says.
The deliberate road map BCBSTN is following is a necessary step to investing in storage wisely, explains EMC's Steinhardt. "Insurers have to have the courage not to create ILM all at once," he says. "Start with the bits and pieces -- maybe e-mails or claims -- then the processing systems. Look at the big picture and build toward the final stages."