IBM to Open Source New Storage Technology

Big Blue plans to draw the curtain on aspects of its next-generation storage software to appeal to open source developers.
Posted December 26, 2002

Clint Boulton

IBM this week pledged to issue an open-source version of its pending Storage Tank technology to lure those inclined toward tinkering with code.

Researchers at the Armonk, N.Y.-based concern's Almaden Research Lab in San Jose are working with an undisclosed open-source group on the software and will release the code in 2003, according to published reports. Spokespeople for IBM's Storage Systems Group could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Storage Tank is a technology designed to get more use out of existing storage systems and make them easier to manage. Rather than the old "rip and replace" modus operandi, existing systems can be linked so much more data may be stored. Storage Tank relies on metadata such as locations, file sizes or access permissions to function. The product, used on Intel servers running Linux, spreads data across a group of servers to tap greater resources and plenty more files.

Also, certain files can be automatically moved to a particular storage pool to share resources and enhance productivity for the IT staff and servers themselves. Storage Tank also addresses the oft-maligned, omnipresent interoperability issue of heterogeneous systems: the technology allows the same files to be accessed by different operating systems -- a holy grail of sorts in the storage software sector.

IBM has crafted a facilitative software agent to help servers with disparate operating systems use Storage Tank and plans to release it to the public next year. This will let others write agents to use Storage Tank, which IBM officials hope will one day store 1 billion files.

By releasing the code for developers to inspect, IBM is extending its already considerable open-source tendrils into the storage arena. Big Blue already supports a good deal of open-source endeavors through the Eclipse software development project, of which its is a voting member.

IBM's last major storage push was its TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server, code-named "Shark", over three years ago. Since that time, the firm has introduced a full line of open storage networking products, including network attached storage and midrange storage disk servers, as well as new tape products, to compete with other systems vendors such as Hitachi , EMC , and HP , to name a few.

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