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Cleversafe-based IBM Cloud Object Storage service debuts

IBM marked the one-year anniversary of its Cleversafe acquisition with the launch of a “pay-as-you-go” cloud object storage service enabling customers to use the same technology on site and off premises.

IBM foreshadowed its plans to facilitate hybrid cloud deployments on Oct. 5, 2015, when it  acquired Cleversafe. But until this month, IBM made available the Cleversafe object storage software for use only on-premises or in a dedicated environment in the IBM Cloud.

Russ Kennedy, vice president of product strategy and customer success at IBM, said IBM has done considerable work to extend its public cloud’s previously limited multi-tenancy capabilities to support millions of concurrent tenants and to integrate the core Cleversafe technology.

Kennedy said customers have the flexibility to store application data in the cloud and move it back on premises, or vice versa, if they choose. He said IBM is looking to provide more automation capabilities in the future, “where decisions are made based on utilization or access or certain parameters that may drive the workloads in one direction or another.”

IBM Cloud Object Storage services are now available in the U.S. and Europe in three configurations:

–Standard – Cleversafe-based high-performance offering for active workloads; supports object storage application programming interfaces (APIs) such as Amazon S3 and OpenStack Swift.

–Vault – lower-cost offering that targets archive, backup and other workloads where data is infrequently accessed.

–Dedicated – single-tenant IBM Object Storage running on dedicated servers in IBM Cloud data centers; available as an IBM managed service or a self-managed option.

Kennedy said SecureSlice technology from Cleversafe eliminates the need for customers to manage encryption keys. SecureSlice automatically encrypts each data segment before it is erasure coded and distributed. IBM Cloud Accesser technology can reassemble the data at the customer’s primary data center, and SecureSlice decrypts it.

IBM Cloud Object Storage has regional and cross-regional options. The cross-regional service sends sliced data to at least three geographic regions. The regional service stores data in multiple data centers in a specific region.

Kennedy said IBM operates close to 50 data centers worldwide, including 12 to 15 in North America. IBM Cloud Object Storage is due to become available in the Asia-Pacific region by year’s end, with other locations to follow in 2017, according to Kennedy.

IBM Cloud Object Storage pricing, found at this link, is based on per GB per month basis. There are also fees for transactions. IBM’s on-premise object storage software can be licensed based on capacity or through a subscription model.

Scott Sinclair, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) Inc., said a 2016 ESG poll of current enterprise Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers identified Microsoft Azure and IBM as the most viable competitors to AWS.

Sinclair said using the same object storage software on premises and off premises could provide advantages. He said storage vendors often differ in how they implement protocols, so users might have piece of mind with the same technology in both places. He said they also know what to expect for service and support, working with a partner that understands both their on-premises and off-premises needs.

“The more vendors that you have to manage in your IT organization creates work,” Sinclair said. “And that work requires people.”

Kennedy said the exponential growth of information is driving users to recognize the cost, scalability and management benefits that object storage can provide over traditional storage, especially when they need petabytes or exabytes of capacity.

“There are still headwinds for object storage,” he said.  “Not all the applications in the world have the ability to write to object storage like they do to traditional file-based or block-based storage. But that’s changing. And it’s changing quite rapidly with the popularity of moving to the cloud.”