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Big Blue storage cloud is bad news for rivals

IBM offers email, picture and corporate storage

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IBM is going to become a cloud storage provider with an XIV-based Smart Business Storage Cloud and a private cloud Information Archive, unifying disk and tape.

Big Blue says it "absolutely plans to have a significant place in the cloud storage space," and this is its marker, emblazoned with XIV and BladeCenter.

It dismissively characterises most existing low entry price storage clouds as being been limited to ‘sandbox’ use cases for secondary or tertiary copies of data, or for use in development and test environments. The data is not frequently accessed and doesn't grow to massive scale. In other words, it is not remotely mission-critical or enterprise grade.

Smart Business Storage Cloud

Its Smart Business Storage Cloud is a private cloud offering, using low-cost components in a scale-out clustered model. The components include XIV storage arrays and BladeCenter servers, plus IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS)

There is support for multiple petabytes of capacity, billions of files in a single global namespace and scale-out performance previously limited, Big Blue asserts, to the largest high-performance computing (HPC) systems.

It supports existing file access methods and, IBM says, is highly secure and built to make use of a customer's "existing security and authentication infrastructure."

Big blue's archive

IBM is also announcing its Information Archive (IA), and aiming to offer customers a single unified platform - a universal archiving repository - for the retention of types of content in a private cloud. The concept is to "provide seamless access to information, including archived data, no matter where it resides," including tape.

It's an integrated integrated hardware and software product that "enables organisations to leverage different tiers of storage, including disk and tape, with policy-based management that automatically moves less active information to more cost-effective storage systems. Using a customizable 'collections-based' approach, the archived data can be accessed in a private cloud computing environment, even if it's stored on tape media."

This should be nicely reassuring to IBM customers with tape libraries, as they can think about plugging these in to private cloud infrastructures.

Components include GPFS, Tivoli Storage Manager and patent-pending Enhanced Tamper Protection, plus deduplication and compression techniques to optimise storage capacity.

IA can archive e-mail, digital images, databases, applications, instant messages, account records, and contracts or insurance claim documents, and other types of storage records. It covers both structured and unstructured information.

It will be supported by IBM software apps for e-mail, content, data and report archiving including IBM Optim Data Growth Solution, Content Collector and other Enterprise Content Management offerings. There will be "a choice of data protection levels to meet multiple archiving requirements. Three customisable archive collections can be created within a single system and each collection can be configured with different retention policies and protection levels to meet specific retention needs, including business, legal, or regulatory."

IBM says multiple access methods using industry-standard protocols will be supported. It is the first offering in IBM’s unified archiving strategy called IBM Smart Archive.

Of course IBM Global Services is on board for these cloud announcements. The company offers tightly-coupled services for SBSC implementation support and an optional ongoing lightweight managed service to help customers manage their cloud environment on an ongoing basis. There will also be three new cloud consulting offerings: IBM Strategy and Change Services for Cloud Adoption, Strategy and Change Services for Cloud Providers and Testing Services for Cloud.

IBM Public storage cloud coming

IBM's claims that SBSC is "the first of its cloud-based storage and analytics solution, built to be implemented either on the client premise or as part of its strategic outsourcing capabilities. The company will continue to build out this area of the portfolio, including a business-grade public cloud for storage, which will be offered with flexible consumption models and a self-service user interface to fully abstract the technology from the end user."

No pricing details were revealed.

Altogether this is pretty startling stuff. XIV leaps to the fore as part of a private cloud storage offering that also and uniquely we believe, includes tape. The archive product embraces both structured and unstructured data. IBM is going to have its own or a contracted-in storage hardware and software infrastructure on which to base a public cloud storage offering. That means millions of dollars of infrastructure. The company is also going to offer a cloud analytics facility, probably private, at least initially.

IBM's customers and sales reps will now be able to smile sweetly at IBM's competitors and say: "What was it exactly you were saying about clouds?" ®

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