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IBM & Friends Tackle Future Of Cloud Storage

IBM has announced plans to develop a smart cloud storage architecture over the next three years. The EU-funded joint research initiative, estimated at $21.5M, involves 15 European partners. Called VISION Cloud -- Virtualized Storage Services for the Future Internet - the group plans to develop a new approach, where data is represented by smart objects that include rich information describing the content of the data and how the object should be handled, replicated, or backed up.

Scientists at IBM Research in Haifa, Israel will lead the project. The partners include IT technology, business software, and service providers SAP AG, Siemens Corporate Technology, Engineering and ITRicity, telecommunications providers Telef??nica Investigaci??n y Desarrollo, Orange Labs and Telenor, media service providers RAI and Deutche Welle, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), Europe standards organization, and universities National Technical University of Athens, Umea University, Swedish Institute of Computer Science and University of Messina.

Yaron Wolfsthal, senior manager, IBM Research, Haifa, says there are four concepts that will be developed for the architecture: a rich object data model, execution of computations close to the stored content, content-centric access, and full data interoperability.

The new architecture is needed because we are being buried in data, he says. According to IBM, we created as much as 150 exabytes (billion gigabytes) of data in 2005. This year, we will create 1,200 exabytes. "For the last couple of years, most companies are generating data faster than they can store it."

Joe Clabby, Clabby Analytics, says this venture is similar to the European Grid Initiative, how the Europeans use grids/clouds to find unused computing power and exploit it. "This new initiative is all about doing the same sort of thing -- but for storage. And it has some interesting additional elements such as the creation of storage objects and the creation of a centralized metadata database that essentially points to the data that people are seeking. And it has a security element (our biggest concern with clouds, just like with grids, is how do you secure data that is held in a public, open location)."