IBM has filed a patent for new cloud storage software, which also comes with the ability to securely migrate data from one cloud to another regardless of who built the cloud. It follows on the heels of its recent announcement that it is releasing industry-specific cloud services that will enable enterprises working in specific verticals move to the cloud quickly and efficiently.

Migrating Cloud Data

However, the new technology, called ICStore, will not just offer new storage possibilities, but will also provide data resiliency by placing data that needs protection in multiple clouds.

According to IBM, the new technology is a response to the growing use of cloud computing across industries that use and store large amounts of sensitive data, but which are concerned about security, reliability and vendor lock-in.

IBM addresses these concerns through what it describes as a “cloud-of-clouds" or intercloud approach that uses the resilience inherent in several clouds to offer protection against service outages and data loss.

The difference with other cloud solutions is that although they provide high availability and reliability using internal replication, some common failure modes remain. The platform of a cloud provider is usually treated as a single security domain typically built using homogeneous components with little internal diversification.

However, the intercloud approach provides heterogeneity by using multiple administrative domains, which is important for building intrusion-tolerant systems.

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IBM intercloud data migration

ICStore Toolkit

The new technology comes in the shape of a toolkit that enables storage systems to access and use other clouds, including third-party public or private clouds, to backup data and to move files. According to the explanatory notes about the release, ICStore, uses an "object storage" interface that enables users migrate data by dragging and dropping files onto the cloud of their choice, regardless of the vendor.

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ICStore explicitly addresses space efficiency, data synchronization and metadata coordination when storing data redundantly on object storage. When one of the cloud locations fail, the back-up cloud kicks-in and ensures that all necessary data is available, without the need for synchronization, or communication among cloud clients.

Like the industry-specific cloud services that were also announced recently, this release is yet another technology that has been added to IBM’s cloud portfolio on the back of last June’s Soflayer acquisition.

IBM’s Cloud Strategy

In an interview with the New York Times, Lance Crosby, chief executive of SoftLayer, said that this is only the beginning of IBM’s development with SoftLayer and that 2014 will see a lot of innovation in this space.

More than 100 products, like e-commerce and marketing tools, will be put inside the cloud as a comprehensive series of offerings for business, Mr. Crosby said, along with another 40 infrastructure services, like big data analysis and mobile applications development.

While he didn’t outline the precise timetable for these releases, he did say that the ball will really start rolling in February when IBM’s CEO Virginia Rometty formally inaugurates the new joint cloud offerings.

By the looks of it, 2014 already looks to be an interesting year for IBM on many fronts, but in the cloud in particular as the battle for market share with Microsoft, Amazon and Google gets underway, and the other three continue to invest in their respective portfolios.