IBM Thinks Big with Storage Cloud for Enterprises
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IBM today unveiled the latest component in its aggressive cloud-computing strategy with the launch of what it's calling the Smart Business Storage Cloud, a private cloud-based storage and archiving application for enterprise customers.
Since June, IBM has made several key cloud-based product and strategy announcements designed to differentiate itself from the likes of Amazon, Google, EMC and a flock of other smaller and mostly privately held cloud-computing specialists.
Tuesday's release of both the Smart Business Storage Cloud and the IBM Information Archive includes support for multiple petabytes of capacity, billions of files and "scale-out performance previously limited to largest high performance computing systems," IBM officials said.
"The thing that has really surprised us after surveying more than 1,000 executives is that two-thirds of them were more interested in private storage versus public storage," David Parker, IBM's vice president of cloud strategy, told InternetNews.com. "And where they were looking at their workloads in the next 12 months, almost 50 percent of them said they were considering a private cloud storage solution."
IBM took a swing at other competitors in both the public and private storage cloud market, saying that existing low-cost storage cloud applications have been "mostly limited to 'sandbox' use cases for secondary or tertiary copies of data or for use in development and test environments in which data does not have to be frequently accessed and doesn't grow into large scales."
"This new offering is designed for what most would call tier-two data," Parker said. "Not the active, transactional type of stuff but data that people are interacting with a lot."
IBM's Smart Business Storage Cloud uses XIV storage arrays and BladeCenter servers in conjunction with its General Parallel File System (GPFS), company officials said. It supports all existing file access methods and platforms and is highly secure by virtue of being integrated with each customer's own existing security and authentication infrastructure.
"Another distinction I would make is that some people might have low-cost data stored out on the cloud, but they have to pay to move it," Parker said. "You only want to keep data that's important for compliance or other issues. It's only $30 a gig to store it but it costs $30,000 to do a legal review of that data."
This migration of data to either public or private storage clouds in order to get it closer to the end user remains the biggest challenge to enterprise IT departments.
"The latency is a big inhibitor for what you can use cloud storage for," said Gartner analyst Adam Couture. "Right now, for enterprises, we see the use restricted to archiving, backup and maybe some collaboration."
With its Information Archive offering, IBM is offering customers a single, unified platform, or universal archiving repository, to retain all types of content in a private cloud. Company officials said the idea is to "provide seamless access to information, including archived data, no matter where it resides," including on tape or in a public or private cloud.
IBM said it will offer a flexible pricing model where customers will pay only for what they consume. Parker said enterprise customers will pay a flat rate per gigabyte but won't be charged a separate fee on top of that rate to access and utilize their datawhich Amazon currently does.