IBM Elastic Storage on Cloud targets hybrid, public cloud

IBM expands its SoftLayer services with Elastic Storage on Cloud, using GPFS and Watson technology.

IBM this week filled in details about the Elastic Storage technology it disclosed in May, and made its Elastic Storage on Cloud service available on SoftLayer.

IBM Elastic Storage on Cloud (ESOC) is based on IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) and Watson supercomputer technology. GPFS helps overcome NFS limitations that traditional NAS faces, and Watson handles data analytics.

The ESOC service consists of SoftLayer bare-metal resources, high-performance data management software, InfiniBand links between clustered servers and offers the ability to move data into the cloud.

According to Louise Westoby, IBM's product marketing manager, IBM developed Elastic Storage on SoftLayer when it discovered that NFS was not sufficient to meet the high demands for data analytics.

"NFS was able to scale to 100 terabytes," Westoby said. "We had clients that scaled well above that. In the cloud, the one petabyte range is needed to do cloud computing. Elastic Storage is a different kind of file system that is able to handle these workloads."

The IBM service can be a hybrid cloud or 100% in SoftLayer's public cloud. Elastic Storage works as a control plane that intelligently handles data. The software can automatically move dormant or infrequently accessed data to less expensive storage, while leaving faster and more expensive storage resources, such as flash for hot data, behind. The management is guided by analytics, which use patterns, storage characteristics and the network to determine where to move the data.

The software also includes data protection capabilities such as automated backup and snapshots. The software manager uses one copy of the data for snapshots and replication of snapshots, reducing the amount of storage consumed.

Elastic Storage supports OpenStack Swift, so users can access and manage data across private and public clouds. It also works with Hadoop. Customers can deploy applications on fully supported clusters using Elastic Storage, IBM Platform LSF or Platform Symphony workload management software.

IBM Elastic Storage has native encryption and secure erase features, as well as server-side cache to increase I/O performance.

ESOC pricing starts at $13,735 per 100 TB per month, which includes software licenses, SoftLayer infrastructure and support. That's nearly three times the cost of SoftLayer object storage, which costs four cents per gigabyte per month or $4,096 per 100 TB per month.

IBM plans to have 40 SoftLayer data center locations by the end of 2014.

Jane Clabby, a research analyst at Clabby Analytics, said the IBM service is targeted more toward the hybrid cloud so it can leverage legacy applications and extend the capabilities to the cloud.

"They are accelerating legacy application and trying to breathe new life into them," Clabby said. "Companies are finding that implementing a private cloud is expensive and [that] it takes a lot of expertise."

Next Steps

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