IBM unwraps Watson-powered push into software-defined storage

small__9186143130IBM has just lifted the lid off a new software-defined storage product whose technology is partly based on the Watson system used on the “Jeopardy” TV game show.

The technology in question was devised in IBM’s research labs, and allowed its Watson supercomputer to process a mind-blowing four terabytes of content (more than 200 million pages) during its appearance on the show, defeating two human contestants in the process. It works by pairing memory and storage to churn out almost instantaneous results.

IBM is calling its new products “Elastic Storage”, and neither the name nor the timing of its release is a coincidence. It’s Big Blue’s answer to EMC’s recently announced ViPR 2.0 software-defined storage solution, allowing for ITs to easily access any and all enterprise data that’s scattered across multiple different storage systems and locations. Elastic Storage employs virtualization to treat multiple storage arrays as a collective resource, which can be carved up into smaller virtual systems as and when required.

One of the biggest benefits of Elastic Storage is its cost-cutting capabilities, claims IBM. The company says it’s able to shift data that’s rarely used into cheaper ‘commodity storage’, while the data that’s used all the time is stored in faster and more expensive resources like Flash. Elastic Storage uses a combination of real-time analytics and policies to automate this data-reshuffling process, allowing enterprises to trim storage costs by up to 90%, says IBM.

While this will please the company accountants, other benefits are said to include speedier access to data, simpler administration, and the ability to expand capacity more rapidly.

Sensibly, IBM has made sure that Elastic Storage is compatible with storage hardware from all the major vendors. The company claims it can work with hardware from any company. Another advantage is that it also supports OpenStack, which means data from public and private clouds can also be accessed and managed with Elastic Storage. The software is also geared to work with Hadoop and other APIs too, the company said.

IBM plans to offer Elastic Storage in both software format and also as a cloud service via its Softlayer IaaS platform when it’s released later this year.

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