October 9, 2017

IBM Object Storage Targets Compliance Data

George Leopold

IBM rolled out on-premises storage options this week targeting the management of regulatory data along with an object storage scaling capability billed as reducing hardware requirements.

The company said the object storage offerings address requirements in regulated industries such as health care for storing growing volumes of compliance data in company datacenters. Along with strict data regulations, IBM cited a dearth of lower capacity options for adopting object storage that will scale as needed.

With those requirements in mind, the company (NYSE: IBM) said Monday (Oct. 9) it aims to change the economics of managing compliance data on-premises with a pair of object storage capabilities.

The first is a “compliance-enabled vault” that would help customers with regulatory requirements for retaining data for specified periods of time—in some cases for years. On-premise object storage vaults are designed to protect compliance data from modification or deletion, preserving electronic records in non-rewritable and non-erasable formats.

Meanwhile, the company said it has addressed the object storage-scaling problem with what it calls “concentrated dispersal mode” capabilities. Information dispersal uses erasure codes as a means to create redundancy for transferring and storing data. In one example, information dispersal algorithms can be used to separate data across machines so that data can still be reassembled even if multiple failures occur.

IBM’s approach also is intended to allow users to launch smaller object storage platforms with capacities as low as 72 Tb. That would allow users to reduce hardware costs while retaining the capability expand to petabyte scale or greater.

The flexible object storage mode aims to replace current network-attached storage for use cases ranging from data consolidation to application data storage over the Network File System.

The scaling capability combines IBM object storage platform with storage partner Panzura’s enterprise cloud file services. Along with IBM, the hybrid cloud storage specialist also works with the leading public cloud service providers. Panzura claims to have installed more than 26 petabytes of new enterprise storage in 2016.

“We also see the value of IBM’s new compliance-enabled vaults and are working with IBM to deliver this capability for our joint customers,” Rich Weber, Panzura’s chief product officer, noted in a statement.

The object storage platform addresses strict compliance guidelines in sectors such as health care for storing patient records while maintaining the integrity of medical records. For example, health care providers on average make three copies of patient records and as many as five copies for medical imaging files. Patient data must be secured and be readily accessible.

Object storage and information dispersal have emerged as preferred methods of handling unstructured compliance data.

IBM said the new compliance-enabled vaults and concentrated dispersal mode capability are scheduled to be generally available on Dec. 1.

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