IBM puts a penguin in its Tank

Open source support from Big Blue...
Written by Stephen Shankland, Contributor

Open source support from Big Blue...

IBM is to release an open-source version of the software which underpins its forthcoming "Storage Tank" technology, in order to encourage the broadest possible support and take-up of the next-generation storage system. Big Blue is working with an undisclosed open-source group on the software and will release the code when the product is generally available in 2003, said David Pease, manager of storage software at IBM's Almaden Research Center and leader of the five-year-old Storage Tank project. In addition, IBM plans to publish the communication method fundamental to the next-generation storage project. Storage Tank - fleetingly codenamed Golden Retriever - is a technology designed to get more use out of existing storage systems and make them easier to manage. With Storage Tank, existing systems can be linked, so vaster amounts of data can be stored. The technology works by using a different way of keeping track of descriptive information -"metadata" such as physical locations, file sizes or access permissions - that accompanies the actual content within the files. Where most storage systems include this metadata in the storage system itself, Storage Tank spreads the information across a group of metadata servers, lower-end dual-processor Intel servers running Linux. The approach permits several advantages. For one thing, it can keep track of a lot of files. IBM's goal is for the system to control as many as a billion files, said Jai Menon, an IBM fellow and storage research manager at Big Blue's Almaden Research Center. In addition, files of a certain type can be automatically moved to a particular storage "pool." For example, video and audio streaming files can be physically stored automatically on a particular storage device suited to that task, while infrequently used text files can be stored on a device with lower performance. The collaborative approach is the most recent example of IBM trying to capitalise on the momentum of the open-source movement. Stephen Shankland writes for News.com
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