IBM zeroes in on unstructured data with Cleversafe buy

The object storage vendor's technology will be integrated into the IBM Cloud

IBM will acquire object-based storage vendor Cleversafe in a move to bolster its cloud business unit with more flexibility and simplified management options in the hybrid cloud.

Founded in 2004, Chicago-based Cleversafe offers large-scale content repository, backup, archive, collaboration and storage as a service. The acquisition aims in particular to help companies tackle growing volumes of unstructured data such as audio, video and images, IBM said Monday.

Object storage such as what Cleversafe provides can offer more efficient storage of massive amounts of data while also meeting the demands of data-intensive workloads delivered via the cloud.

Cleversafe's Dispersed Storage Network products offer large-scale active archives and unstructured data content stores. They complement IBM's software-defined Spectrum Storage portfolio and will be integrated into the IBM Cloud to enhance Big Blue's Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), SoftLayer and SoftLayer Object Storage services platform, IBM said.

Clients will be able to use SoftLayer cloud services and IBM Bluemix, its Platform as a Service (PaaS), to create new applications with the Cleversafe technology.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Companies in healthcare, media and entertainment are particularly heavily burdened with massive volumes of unstructured and semi-structured data and so are particularly ripe targets for IBM as a result of the deal, noted Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT.

At the same time, Cleversafe already has a significant presence in object storage solutions, he pointed out. The fact that IBM will deliver Cleversafe solutions both as physical offerings and as services via its SoftLayer cloud means extra flexibility for customers, King said.

Of course, any benefit will depend on both companies' ability to sustain their newly combined advantages.

"Any time a large, established vendor purchases a plucky smaller player, questions arise over whether the acquired company can maintain or enhance the qualities that made it special in the first place," King said. "Fortunately, IBM has a pretty solid track record in this regard."

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Katherine Noyes

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