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IBM Leads Cloud Computing Storage Research

The Quest for Portable Metadata Is On!

One of the great challenges in the Cloud Computing world is to create portable metadata, so that specific files, and not just bits and bytes, can be easily transported among storage subsystems throughout a Cloud environment that might span several countries.

This is a tougher technical challenge than, say, juggling two oranges. In fact, the EU thinks it's at least a $20 million challenge, so has funded roughly that amount to IBM and several European companies to research it.

The initiative, called VISION Cloud--Virtualized Storage Services for the Future Internet --focuses on data as represented by smart objects that include rich information describing the content of the data and how the object should be handled, replicated, or preserved. The research project "will tackle the major challenges facing today's storage clouds, including: cost-effectiveness, data mobility across cloud providers, security guarantees, and the massive computing power demands that are affecting quality of service," according to an official statement.

"The world is generating data faster than we can store it," explained Kristof Kloekner, IBM VP Strategy & Enterprise Initiatives, Systems & Software & CTO Cloud, "and we've become critically dependant on services that can extract valuable information from the data and help drive better decision making. By optimizing delivery of data-intensive storage services, VISION Cloud will usher in a new era of more flexible, scalable, and secure cloud storage that can be delivered in a pay-per-use model."

The research will be centered in Haifa, Israel and led by Dr. Hillel Kolodner, a researcher with IBM Haifa, who also serves as lead architect for VISION Cloud. He says "the focus (of Cloud Computing storage) must shift to the data---where the collections of bits are semantically meaningful and have associated metadata. Data should be a first-class citizen, where its importance is comparable to the computing power itself. With VISION Cloud, our aim is develop the infrastructure to support this prominence of data and data-intensive services."

Why This is Important
The key point of all this to business users--and especially to small-business users--of Cloud Computing is to help them avoid vendor lock-in. Today, if you sign up with a vendor, then later balk at a price increase or some other problem, you are stuck. You can't simply switch to another vendor with any cost-effectiveness, as you would have to set up your data and applications with a new vendor all over again.

In contrast, "with the technology of VISION Cloud, which is built on open standards, financial data (for example) can easily be transferred from one cloud provider to another, saving a small business the trouble of downloading and securing what could amount to terabytes of data," according to a information from IBM. "Alternatively, the small business could have its data split across the two providers. Given the open standards of VISION Cloud, the less expensive provider could offer access to data still residing on the old provider. The transfer of data from the old provider to the new one could begin as a background process or even in an on-demand fashion."

A group of partners from the worlds of industry, media, and academia are joining IBM in this initiative, including: SAP AG, Siemens Corporate Technology, Engineering and ITRicity, Telefonica Investigacion y Desarrollo, Orange Labs, Telenor, RAI, Deutche Welle, SNIA Europe, the National Technical University of Athens, Umea University, the Swedish Institute of Computer Science, and the University of Messina.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Studies, (@TauDir), with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is also a writer & editor for SYS-CON Media. He writes for Cloud Computing Journal & Computerworld Philippines. He is Conference Chair of WebRTC Summit and Things Expo. He has a BA from Knox College, Certificate in Tech Writing from UC-Berkeley, and MBA studies at CSU-East Bay. He serves on the board of the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies, and has served as Director, U.S. Coast Guard Aux Int'l Affairs.

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