EMC Atmos: Instant Cloud

Arthur Cole

All right folks. This is it -- the day cloud computing evolved from an architectural strategy based on an amalgam of different technologies to a full-fledged, deployable product that's ready to go at virtually a moment's notice.


I'm speaking, of course, about EMC's new Atmos platform, the multi-petabyte cloud storage infrastructure built on standard x86 server hardware. The system is the culmination of more than a year of development on both the software portion (Maui) and the hardware side (Hulk), with the intent of delivering a cloud-based information management platform that works on a global scale.


EMC says the platform is aimed at the growing number of Web 2.0 applications, like video- and photo-sharing services, many of which are being formatted as Web-based objects. The company has coined the term "cloud-optimized storage" (COS) to describe the system, which is heavy on policy definition designed to keep track of data no matter where it's stored.


Reaction so far has been mostly positive, with some observers describing it as a completely new class of storage architecture. Enterprise Strategy Group's Terri McClure told eWeek the system establishes a centralized distributed storage architecture, compared to most systems that simply add global name space capabilities to what are essentially local file systems. IDC's Ben Woo described the system as "revolutionary" in that it allows distant storage systems to communicate with one another as if they were part of the same data center, increasing the value of stored data.


Chris Mellor at The Register does a good job of explaining how the system can be used to handle data across great distances. Admins can establish multiple levels of storage service, allowing synchronous or asynchronous copies to be made at one or several sites around the globe using a variety of storage targets, such as compressed, spin-down and object-level dedupe. There is also a multi-tenancy feature to establish multiple user or customer object sets.


Initial versions will be available in 120, 240 and 360 TB capacities, although the company has yet to release pricing details.


It's also important to note that EMC says this is only the beginning of its cloud program. It makes sense for the company to jump in with a storage product, but the cloud can be used for much more than that. And EMC knows it.

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