Hewlett-Packard today announced its unswerving dedication to 'information lifecycle management', whatever that may be.

The company has even set up a brand new area of its hp.com site for ILM - that currently redirects to its normal storage page. But you can be sure as soon as its figured out what ILM is, it will be at the forefront of this exciting new technology.

If you’ve just got back from holiday, you may have missed the most exciting thing to hit the storage market since someone transposed the “S” and the “N” in SAN. Information lifecycle management seems to have been born in June when StorageTek started talking about tying in storage with an intelligent system that traced particular bits of saved data and put them in the relevant places.

The huge increase in data being created everyday by companies has forced storage companies to work out ways of separating the wheat from the chaff. The systems to do that are only just starting to emerge but StorageTek found a term for it and it seems to have stuck.

In fact, the company seems to think it has trademarked the name, although the speed with which other companies have leapt on the buzzword bandwagon may undermine that and make it a generic term.

Next up was EMC a month later, saying how ILM was the future and that the market would see double-digit growth in the next few years. Not to be beaten, Legato jumped in, although how much that was inspired by the fact EMC is on the cusp of buying it, we may never know.

Not to be outdone, HP has just put its full backing behind this ILM stuff and it’s thought to be only a matter of time before IBM and Hitachi follow suit with their own high-minded, low-detailed approaches.

The theory behind ILM is excellent: companies have embraced the doomsday scenario in which all their data is destroyed and so they must back everything up as frequently and efficiently as possible. However, how do you distinguish between vital information and the gigabits of largely useless tittle-tattle produced every day?

Easy. You tag and track different bits of data and according to how important it is, feed it off to a variety of different storage systems of different speeds and reliability. That way companies don’t have to pay for state-of-the-art systems for their employees’ personal emails and storage companies can persuade companies to back-up every piece of data that is pumped out every day, albeit it on cheaper systems.

There is also the increasing legislation across the world which makes it law to keep certain pieces of information for certain periods of time. Without some sort of filtering mechanism, this could become an impossibly time-consuming and expensive task. Banks, governments and hospitals will be the first port of call, followed by big business, the rest of the public sector and then gradually the average company.

Of course, ILM doesn’t actually exist yet but it’s the future and so everyone is mad keen to tell everyone why they are the best at it.