IBM patents cloud data location management tech

IBM patents cloud data location management tech

Summary: IBM has patented a technique designed to help customers automatically analyse and manage the location where their public and private cloud data is stored.

TOPICS: Cloud, IBM, Security

IBM has filed a patent for a technique that will automatically manage cloud data across geographic regions, claiming it will allow client companies to comply with regulations governing where data can be stored in different countries and continents.

"During the early years of cloud computing, it was evident that storing and accessing business data across geographically dispersed cloud computing environments could present logistical and regulatory challenges," said IBM's Sandeep Ramesh Patil, co-inventor of the patent.

"Our team of inventors designed a system that will allow businesses to efficiently manage and move data in the cloud, while meeting required compliance mandates in different countries."

Although IBM waited until August 8 to announce the new technique, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published the patent on March 18. The patent was first filed with the USPTO on September 23, 2010.

The patent, #8,676,593, geographic governance of data over clouds, outlines methods and systems for "controlling a geographic region of data in cloud computing".

The abstract describes a "method implemented in a computer infrastructure including a combination of hardware and software includes: receiving a request from a local computing device to save data on a network including a plurality of data storage locations in a plurality of different geographic regions."

The technology does this by analysing either file attributes associated with the data, or predefined rules — identifying one of the plurality of data storage locations within the specified geographic region based on the determining step, and "routing the data to the identified one of the plurality of data storage locations within the specified geographic region".

According to IBM, the invention allows companies to mark or tag their data and use an intelligent cloud management system to store files in the appropriate location. 

The patent was published by the USPTO just three months prior to a court ruling in the US ordering Microsoft to hand over foreign data to US authorities.

In July, a US judge ordered Microsoft to hand over the data, despite strong privacy protections in Europe, after finding that, because the company is headquartered in the US, the data it controls — even overseas — are just as applicable to US law.

That ruling paves the way for international users of Microsoft's services — and others headquartered in the US, including Apple, Google, and Twitter — to lose immunity from having their data passed over to the US government for law enforcement or intelligence purposes.

Topics: Cloud, IBM, Security


Leon covers enterprise technology and start-ups from ZDNet's Sydney newsroom.

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  • WTF?

    The patent system has gone mad. I've just read the patent, and it seem that somehow IBM have achieved a patent for what appears to be a simple classifcation system based on metadata and rules. What the hell is novel about that? All they have done is to make a very simple thing sound complex and add in 19 pages of diagrams.
    • Agreed!

      tl;dr Massive (physical)prior art (see Alice v CLS Holdings) and Obvious as heck.

      I wonder if this is another example of the USPTO's problems with telecommuting workers. Theirs a ton of prior art as there are numerous examples of remote, rules-based synchronization out there. Heck, I been doing rules based, geographic synchronization since FTP began! Now I have this via Spideroak (lots of useful rules there and entirely encrypted ], then pick accounts in a particular geography. So what's new here?

      The other problem is the most recent ruling by the Supreme Court isn re Alice Corp. v. CLS Holding Int'l. This is the expression of an algorthm (rules based procedure). Aside from that, it's the bleedingly obvious network expression of geographic tape-based storage. Sheesh! I could go on for quite a while since my first computer was an IBM System/360 and their system administrators showed me all about the care and feeding of a mainframe including remote tape storage. WAY off site. Two remote sites when I got the same indoctrination on the a brand-shiny-new System/370. I'll stop here.
      Brian J. Bartlett
  • Execution is the thing.

    Yes, the concept, embed metadata for routing, analyze it, and then ship it off, is simple. The problem is how you execute it. And even that will not help the problem started by the hyperactive judge. Her ruling is purely based on county of origin of the CLOUD owner, not the country of origin and residence of the DATA. So even if a Microsoft or Google were to implement this (and betcha the implementation is HIGHLY dependent on IBM's own cloud) the problem is they are still US companies and according to Ms. NSA troll, it is still possessed by a US company, even if it never leaves the country of origin courtesy of IBM's magic patented methods. And no one has explored the implications involved with contract arrangements (for example, what if Microsoft managed the cloud, used IBM's technology to keep the French data French, and the storage in France was through a French contract provider), would all that get around her ruling?

    Funny, back when IBM was getting huge they initially sold large systems to service bureaus (think the cloud in the 70s) who handle multiple entities' data. Then as the hardware costs came down they specifically sold systems to individual companies and governments on the entire premise of control of their own data. Then the Internet and the "cheap at all cost" mantra sold by the outsourcers and consultants (the "new" cloud) basically brought the return to the 70s. Now they are trying desperately to protect that. But here comes the NSA and other cyber-espionage and criminals and, much like the end of the original cloud in the 70s the whole thing is showing signs of ending again. Interesting how that works...