IBM Plugs Cloud Holes with Cleversafe Acquisition

Cleversafe acquisition illustration

IBM has announced that they will acquire object storage developer Cleversafe. Big Blue hasn’t disclosed terms yet; they expect to share them by the end of this year.

Cleversafe Dispersed Storage Network (dsNET) software efficiently stores massive amounts of data while protecting high performance workloads. The object architecture enables Cleversafe dsNet to reassemble objects with their metadata into requested information, rather than deploying many copies of the same data. Dispersion technology can store the objects across multiple data centers.

Many of Cleversafe’s customers either operate large multimedia data stores like Shutterfly for photo storage and Sky for media. Media storage in the cloud is a demanding proposition: unstructured multimedia requires large amounts of storage, and upload sites like Shutterfly or Sky must protect performance with massive uploads of new data a day. Cleversafe also OEM’s its object storage technology to partners like HP, Commvault and Symantec, and large-scale cloud providers that sell object storage as a service offering.

IBM Enters the Picture

The addition of Cleversafe improves IBM’s hybrid cloud offerings that optimize on-premise storage for massive production workloads. IBM plans to integrate Cleversafe dsNET to support hybrid cloud deployments using both on-premise and cloud locations. IBM plans to structure Cleversafe technology as an on-premise massive archive and data repository.

The content store will be part of IBM’s Softlayer Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), specifically its Softlayer Object Storage Services. Developers creating and testing new analytics, social and mobile applications can use IBM SoftLayer with Cleversafe and IBM BlueMix Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) as a high performance hybrid cloud.

IBM will deploy Cleversafe in two platforms: the IBM Cloud business unit as part of SoftLayer, and as a component of IBM Spectrum. Cleversafe complements — not replaces — IBM’s Spectrum Storage family, notably its HPC offering GPFS, or Spectrum Scale. IBM also plans to continue selling Cleversafe as a standalone product, which is not surprising as Cleversafe already supports a number of big data customers.

IBM is hardly new to acquisitions for its cloud portfolio, and unlike some other major vendors has a good track record for absorbing its acquisitions. SoftLayer itself is an acquisition from 2013 that forms the infrastructure backbone of IBM Cloud offerings. In 2014 IBM acquired Cloudant for database cloud services, and this year bought Blue Box for its private cloud-on-demand technology. IBM stated that it would still work with open-source OpenStack Swift for object storage, but the Cleversafe acquisition extends SoftLayer with on-premise object storage that IBM has lacked.

It remains to be seen if IBM will continue to OEM Cleversafe to existing partners and resellers. Some of these partnerships may not be renewed – the HP agreement is particularly problematic. But it’s quite common for existing OEM partners to continue to buy the acquired product lines.