IBM working on 'cloud-of-clouds' solution to limit vendor lock-in

Blue cloud
IBMs mega cloud will connect people together

IBM researchers are working on a solution that they claim can seamlessly store and move data across multiple cloud platforms in real time.

The firm thinks that the technology will help enterprises with service reliability concerns. On top of this, they hope to "cloud-enable" almost any digital storage product.

A "cloud-of-clouds" approach is a multi-cloud distributed storage system that can link data together in multiple public and private clouds. Researchers at IBM have developed a "drag-and-drop" toolkit that allows users to move file storage across almost any cloud platform.

The company cloud would host identity authentication and encryption technologies as well as other security systems on an external cloud platform (the 'InterCloud Store') to keep each cloud autonomous, while also keeping them synced together.

Cross-cloud communication

IBM's Evangelos Eleftheriou explained that the cloud-of-clouds invention can help avoid service outrages due to the fact it can tolerate crashes of any number of clients. It would do this using the independence of multiple clouds (link opens a PDF document) linked together to increase overall reliability.

Though HP and RedHat have also made offerings of similar kinds, IBM touts its support for a wider range of storage products and services. It also implements cross-cloud communication in a very different way.

Storage services don't communicate directly with each other but instead go through the larger cloud for authentication. Data is encrypted as it leaves one station and decrypted before it reaches the next. If one cloud happens to fail, a back-up cloud responds immediately.

The cloud-of-clouds is also intrinsically more secure: "If one provider gets hacked there is little chance they will penetrate other systems at the same time using the same vulnerability." Alessandro Sorniotti, cloud storage scientist at IBM and one of the researchers, says. "From the client perspective, we will have the most available and secure storage system."