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IBM to introduce 'cloud of clouds' in 2014

IBM has developed a software toolkit that allows users to store and move data in multiple public or private clouds through a drag-and-drop method for data protection against service outages and data loss.

The company has code-named the product “Intercloud Storage (ICStore),” and it uses an object storage interface for data migration, backup and file sharing in third party clouds. The toolkit will be available in beta to Storwize customers in January 2014 but the general availability has not been disclosed yet.

IBM’s SoftLayer will be the default cloud but technology will support more than 20 cloud services, including Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, Rackspace and OpenStack object storage.

“This is an internal research project and we are using clouds to solve a few issues with cloud storage,” said Thomas Weigold, IBM’s manager for storage systems research at its Zurich research laboratory. “It’s a problem with security, reliability and vendor lock in. These are the points where customers have problems. The idea is to use more than one cloud through replication or erasure coding.”

IBM calls this technology “cloud of clouds” and the company has done proof-of-concepts with a select number of customers during the last two years.

Weigold said the toolkit can be customized so that replication or erasure coding can be used, depending on the what the data needs. The toolkit addresses space efficiency, data synchronization and metadata coordination when storing data redundantly on object storage. If one cloud service fails, the other cloud will be available transparently to the user.

Workloads can be positioned for high availability and disaster recovery. For instance, primary data can be stored in a  private cloud while snapshots of the data can be moved to an external public cloud and encrypted.

“You can be very specific,” said Weigold, “such as all files in the directory of this size should be migrated to these providers but not before an application’s copies are replicated.”

The software will have integrated protection features and AES 128, 192, or 256 bit encryption for security.

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