In unveiling the Smart Business Storage Cloud, IBM said it also planned to launch a business-grade public cloud that would offer "flexible consumption models and a self-service user interface to fully abstract the technology from the end user." However, no timetable or pricing was offered.
Cloud storage is a broad term that typically applies to storage systems that are highly scalable and can be used internally or externally. The systems often use some form of clustered or grid-based storage.
IT organizations looking at cloud storage are typically under mandates to reduce escalating storage costs. In addition, they are faced with meeting increasing performance demands and dealing with massive data growth and overworked IT staff.
IBM's proposed solution to these problems for large organizations comprises the tech company's XIV storage arrays, BladeCenter servers, and General Parallel File System. The system would support multiple petabytes of data, including text, audio, and video, in a single global namespace.
Key to IBM's private-cloud offering is a new Information Archive, an integrated hardware and software system that provides a single unified platform for information retention. GPFS is a core component of the system, as is policy-based management software that automatically moves less active information to inexpensive storage systems, such as tape.
While making better use of tape, the system also retains access to data in those 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," IBM said in a statement. "This capability is critical as an increasing amount of data is expected to exist in archived formats."
IBM promises a "highly secure" environment that's built using a customer's existing security and authentication infrastructure.
IBM Global Business Services launched cloud-consulting offerings to complement the latest products. The services are geared toward helping organization build a business case for cloud computing, identify processes that would benefit the most, and define a roadmap for deployment.
IBM's entry into cloud storage is likely to present a serious challenge to other vendors, such as Amazon, Microsoft, AT&T, and Hewlett-Packard. A recent survey by Evans Data found that developers considered IBM as being able to provide the most secure private cloud environment, and was also rated high in reliability and ability to execute.
InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on the public cloud, digging into the gritty details of cloud computing services from a dozen vendors. Download the report here (registration required).