IBM is out with a software-defined storage it is calling Elastic Storage -- and its roots trace back to the Jeopardy-winning supercomputer Watson. The company said the new approach can reduce storage costs by as much 90 percent by automatically moving it to the cheapest storage device.
The patented technology, a product of the company's esteemed Research Labs, is designed to "exploit -- not just manage" the growth in big data resulting from the proliferation of devices, sensors, processes and social networks. The technology was introduced Monday at an event in Boston. Initially, the service will be available only on-premises, but later this year it will become available through the company's SoftLayer cloud.
Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of the IBM Systems and Technology Group, said in a statement that, with digital data growing so rapidly, "traditional storage systems used to house and manage it will eventually run out of runway." He added that the IBM tech is intended to use advances in speed, scalability and cost savings to accommodate the boom in data storage and the need for data access.
200 Million Pages
Using software-defined storage, data is automatically managed locally and globally, which the company said can provide dramatic speed improvements for access, easier administration and the ability to scale quickly. The technology, IBM said, can work with any company's storage systems.
Watson, which played on live TV against two human champions of Jeopardy, had access to 200 million pages of structured and unstructured data, as well as to all of Wikipedia. A technology similar to Elastic Storage was used to load 5 terabytes of knowledge -- which is what the 200 million pages represented -- in minutes into Watson's memory.
The company said its researchers have shown that Elastic Storage can scan 10 billion files in a single cluster in under 45 minutes, which it said sets a new benchmark for analyzing massive data stores. The technology also makes use of flash storage on the server that provides a six times increase in performance compared with standard serial attached SCSI disks. When flash memory is present, the technology uses it as cache memory to speed up access and read/write times.
The technology also virtualizes the storage, so that a variety of systems and applications can share the same storage, which means that applications do not need to be modified or storage management added. It also allows access to data in the event of software or hardware failures, because it does not rely on centralized management.
Policy and real-time analytics are used to move seldom-used data to cheaper, low-cost tape drives, and to move more frequently accessed data to flash-based systems. There's also native encryption, secure erase, and support for OpenStack cloud management software, OpenStack Cinder, Swift, POSIX and Hadoop.
The Watson-derived storage solution is part of a major push by IBM to utilize what it developed to beat two human challengers on the game show. In addition to software-defined storage, Watson-originated services include big-data analytics, expert services for the health and medical industry, and support for processing scientific literature.
Image credit: Watson product shot with logo from IBM; iStock/Artist's concept.