By Arvind Krishna, Senior Vice President and Director of IBM
IBM Research has long played a pivotal role in the evolution
of storage. In 1956 IBM researchers
helped to create RAMAC, the first magnetic hard disk. They also developed the giant
magneto-resistive head for disk drives in the 1980s that still serves as the
basis for all of today’s disk drives. In
1995 they helped IBM to win a National Medal of Technology for rewritable
disks. Now it’s time for us to take another big step.
With data growing at 50 percent per year, IBM is investing
$1 billion to manage this digital wellspring with storage software for the
hybrid cloud. This five-year investment includes research and development of
new cloud storage software, object storage and open standard technologies such
While perhaps not quite as captivating as watching RAMAC’s
massive spinning disks must have been, the archiving capability for this new
technology, called Spectrum Storage, did win an Emmy back in 2011. If you like having digital media instantly
available on everything from your phone to your smart TV, you have IBM’s
“Spectrum Archive” and our researchers to thank.
Living up to our heritage in developing industry leading
technology for IBM products, IBM Research played a significant role in this announcement
by inventing four out of six IBM Spectrum Storage offerings and contributing
heavily to the other two.
Unboxing the full spectrum of data storage
We predict that storage software will overtake storage
hardware by 2020, by which time it will have to manage 40 zettabytes (40
sextillion bytes) of data. We believe most of that data will be in hybrid cloud
because of the flexibility it offers businesses. A company that has your data,
or data you want, will be able to manage, analyze, add to, and transfer it all
from a single dashboard, something impossible to do today on storage hardware
that sits alone in a datacenter.
The other major benefit of storage software is that it can
access and analyze any kind of data wherever it lives, no matter the hardware,
platform, or format. So, from mobile devices linked to your bank, to servers
full of unstructured social media information, data – via the cloud – can be
This technology is already demonstrating its value. For example, Caris Life Sciences is using a part of the Spectrum portfolio to speed up the
company’s molecular profiling services for cancer patients. Scientists at DESY,
a major research center out of Germany, use Spectrum to crunch more than 20 GB of
data per second to study atomic structures.
Beyond the next five years and all of its zettabytes,
software-defined-storage can help lead us to new technologies like phase-change memory (PCM),
STT-RAM, and beyond. In fact, our scientists in Zurich made a breakthrough last
year in the materials development of PCM, which promises to bridge the
performance gap between the main memory and storage electronics from mobile
phones to cloud data centers. And its unique physical properties make it ideal
to serve as the memory for our work on brain chip architecture.
That’s what’s so exciting about the storage world – it’s
always moving forward. As far as we’ve
come in the storage evolution, the journey is just beginning. As it has done in the past, IBM Research will
be there every step of the way.
Labels: ibm research, openstack, spectrum storage, storage