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IBM prepares Cleversafe object storage for cloud

IBM's Cleversafe object storage, OpenStack and Amazon S3 will make up three separate cloud services that will support cold storage and high-performance applications.

IBM plans to incorporate newly acquired Cleversafe object storage technology in cloud services expected to become available around the middle of the year, although the integration work is not yet complete.

IBM Cloud Object Storage services will include Cleversafe object storage that supports Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) API for high-performance applications. IBM unveiled the services this week at its InterConnect conference in Las Vegas.

The cloud object storage services include three configurations: Nearline for archiving and backup; Standard for high-performance applications; and Dedicated for single-tenant systems running on dedicated servers as a managed service or self-managed cloud. Cleversafe object storage will be used in the Standard SoftLayer storage service, with S3 for Nearline and OpenStack Swift for Dedicated.

"The Nearline will reflect other public cloud offerings with access to multi-tenant storage systems," said Rob McCammon, director of product management at IBM's Cleversafe. "There will be two different tiers for price performance: one for cold data and the Standard for more active data. The Dedicated service combines on-premises cloud with public cloud."

IBM paid $1.3 billion for Cleversafe last October. Cleversafe had raised $135 million in funding, according to documents IBM filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in February.

McCammon said the Cleversafe object storage still needs to be integrated with IBM's cloud technology before it can be offered as a service. Cleversafe was developed as on-premises object storage, not for building public clouds. Cleversafe systems will be deployed on IBM clients, so new or existing on-premises systems can serve as a standalone storage service, or combined with IBM Cloud object storage.

"There is certain integration work that is needed to make Cleversafe available as a service model," McCammon said. "But the core of this announcement is we are offering flexibility for customers. They can mix and match these different models and change models over time.

Raj Bala, research director at Gartner for cloud storage, said IBM still has to prove the Cleversafe technology is ready for enterprise-scale deployments. He said the services announcement lacks details, such as pricing and whether the technology has been integrated with the identity access management layer of SoftLayer.

"Cleversafe has a large number of deployments, but it has not been tested for the public cloud," Bala said. "It's not been proven for large-scale infrastructure for the public cloud. I'm not quite sure it's enterprise-ready. Cleversafe is not integrated with SoftLayer. It's this thing that has been placed in the middle of it."

Bala said IBM is keeping its options open on whether OpenStack Swift or Cleversafe object storage will win out with cloud customers.

"They are hedging on which will be the one going forward," he said. "I think Cleversafe will be the one, but IBM is not saying that. Compared to Swift, Cleversafe is more robust object storage. It's better architected and it's a much more scalable system."

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