IBM’s Cure for Cloud Storage Fears: Spread the Love

CloudsAnyone who has ever tried to sell cloud storage services to a skittish client know to anticipate a few uncomfortable questions, mostly beginning with “What happens if…?”

The toughest hurdles to broad cloud computing adoption in business have always focused on the end user’s sense that they are giving up control of a vital part of their enterprise. The fret about turning over to a third party not only their critical data, but the long-term security, stability and integrity of that information as well. And the very idea of cloud storage vendor lock-in is anathema to most CIOs.

Is these kinds questions — and the challenges they raise for the general acceptance of an innovative and disruptive technology – that get the wheels turning in places like the storied labs of IBM Corp. The big brains at Big Blue’s invention factory in Armonk, N.Y. love problems like this. And earlier this week, the company said its engineers may have found an answer to one of cloud storage’s most vexing dilemmas.

IBM’s self-labeled “inventors” are showing off new cloud storage software with a fairly simple looking front end that purports to allow dynamic migration of data across multiple public, private and hybrid clouds while safeguarding its confidentiality and security.

Dubbed the InterCloud Storage toolkit (ICStore for short), the patent-pending tool uses a sort of a “cloud-of-clouds” approach that takes advantage of the ability of separate clouds to offer stronger protection against service outages and data loss than a single cloud can deliver.

“Our cloud-of-clouds invention can help clients avoid service outages and security incidents that impact the reliability and security of individual clouds,” said IBM Fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou. “We are adding multiple levels of redundancy and reliability by making cloud migration and backup easier and faster than is currently possible.”

IBM’s engineers purpose built ICStore for accessing third-party private and public clouds for data migration, backup or file sharing. With the tool, users can drag and drop files for sharing and backup to the cloud asset of choice, regardless of vendor.

The system handles space efficiency, data synchronization, and metadata coordination, and should one of the clouds fail, the back-up cloud immediately responds to ensure data availability with no action required on the part of the user. Ideally, the client should never even know the switchover took place, the system is that elegant.

The whole thing requires no synchronization or communication among cloud clients thanks to the system’s redundancy and failure tolerance.

The IBMers published the more arcane details of the new ICStroe tool in a paper titled “Robust data sharing with key-value stores” at IEEE/IFIP’s International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks in Budapest last summer and hinted at the technology during the IBM Edge 2013 conference in Las Vegas in June.

The toolkit is now available for early trial testing and partners seeking more info can inquire here.