IBM Looking to 'Storlets' to Manage Object Storage

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2014-05-15 Print this article Print

In a post on the IBM Research blog, Factor compared the process to preparing a meal.

"Imagine if every time you wanted to cook a meal, you had to bring all your ingredients to a central neighborhood depot where stoves, appliances, and cooking utensils were available to 'process' the food," he wrote. "That’s similar to the current situation with data on the cloud. Storlets come to remedy this situation by moving the heavy lifting to where it's needed—similar to allowing you to cook everything in your kitchen, where all your raw materials are already located."

What this means is that users can get the data that they want more quickly, network latencies are reduced, and bandwidth is saved by not having to move the data over the network to be processed.

"Our vision is to reduce costs, increase flexibility and improve security by turning the object store into a platform, and allowing the functionality of the object store to be extended using software," Factor wrote.

In addition, the storlets could be a way for businesses to offer new services, such as image alignment storlets or image extraction storlets. The software can extract the metadata—such as size, subject and format—from each object. With these capabilities, users gain greater control over the data. Building on the doctor and the medical image, users could take a movie uploaded to an object store and have the storlets automatically create a single image, or a have documents sent in a specific format.

"All this sophisticated computation is moved into the storage infrastructure via the software of dynamically loaded storlets, making it faster, more flexible, and far less expensive," Factor wrote.

Storlets leverage OpenStack Swift and work with Hadoop and the OpenStack Cinder block storage service, and will be able to be used either in the cloud via IBM's SoftLayer or on-premises, he said. IBM researchers are taking advantage of projects in the European Union to help develop storlets.



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