IBM Cloud Invention ‘Eliminates Lock-In’

Cloud computing © Sashkin Shutterstock 2012

IBM’s ‘cloud of clouds’ invention provides an interface for migrating data across multiple clouds, which the company hopes will spur wider cloud adoption

IBM announced a new cloud storage invention that provides an interface for users to securely migrate data across multiple clouds, essentially eliminating vendor lock-in in the cloud space.

IBM said its clients across all industries, including banks, retailers and government, are embracing cloud computing to drive business innovation and growth, but underlying concerns about security, reliability and vendor lock-in have inhibited widespread cloud adoption.

‘Cloud of clouds’

However, IBM’s patent-pending invention overcomes concerns about data resiliency, security and service continuity via a novel technique that stores and moves data across multiple clouds. IBM researchers developed a “cloud-of-clouds” approach that invokes the resilience of separate clouds to offer stronger protection against service outages and data loss than any single cloud can deliver.

IBM logo © Tomasz Bidermann Shutterstiock“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, who is the head of the Storage Technologies Department of IBM Research – Zurich, where the invention originated. “We are adding multiple levels of redundancy and reliability by making cloud migration and backup easier and faster than is currently possible.”

IBM scientists have developed a software toolkit that enables storage systems to access and use third-party private and public clouds for data migration, backup or file sharing. The toolkit uses an “object storage” interface that enables users to drag and drop files to be backed up or shared on the cloud or clouds of their choice – independent of the vendor.

The software is known as the InterCloud Storage toolkit or ICStore for short. ICStore explicitly addresses space efficiency, data synchronisation, and metadata coordination when storing data redundantly on object storage. Once a cloud fails, the back-up cloud immediately responds and ensures data availability – transparently to the user. No synchronisation or communication among cloud clients is needed because this IBM technique adds redundancy and tolerates failures, IBM said.


SoftLayer, which IBM acquired in July and has solidly integrated into its cloud infrastructure, is the default storage provider and it provides the object-based interface. The combination of the toolkit and SoftLayer enables organisations to overcome limits in their cloud storage capacity by dynamically routing to an alternative storage system – such as easily migrating from a remote public cloud to on-premise private cloud optimising the overall efficiency of data storage management.

IBM scientists developed their patent-pending algorithms and published them in a paper titled “Robust data sharing with key-value stores” at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers/International Federation for Information Processing (IEEE/IFIP) International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN). The technology was demonstrated in June at the IBM Edge 2013 conference in Las Vegas in conjunction with the IBM Storwize platform and is available for early trial testing.

IBM is aiming to be a global leader in cloud computing, with a portfolio of open cloud solutions that help clients build, rent or tap into cloud capabilities. Big Blue has targeted Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its primary competitor in this space and has turned up the heat in its marketing campaign against AWS.

The company has helped more than 20,000 clients around the world move to the cloud. In addition, IBM has more than 100 cloud Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, 37,000 experts helping clients transform and a network of more than 25 global cloud delivery centres. Since 2007, IBM has invested more than $6 billion in acquisitions to accelerate its cloud initiatives.

Most recently IBM acquired SoftLayer with more than 21,000 clients in 140 countries to further build out its Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) portfolio with an easy and secure on ramp to cloud integrating IBM SmartCloud.

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Originally published on eWeek.