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IBM's Watson-Powering Elastic Storage Gets A New Launch

By Steve Anderson May 12, 2014

For most any gadget buff, technology enthusiast, futurist or science fiction maven out there, February 14 has a special meaning that goes beyond candy and cherubs. February 14, after all, was the day that IBM's Watson took on Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in the first part of a two day match, ultimately defeating the two biggest names in Jeopardy history. But now, part of the system that allowed Watson to claim a place in that same history is now making its way to users in the form of Elastic Storage.

Elastic Storage is, at last report, part of a wider portfolio of software defined storage products from IBM, and is capable of scanning fully 10 billion files located on a system in just 43 seconds. This in turn serves as at least a partial explanation of how Watson managed to clean house on one of the smartest game shows ever devised by mankind. Elastic Storage is set to be part of IBM SoftLayer, and not only offer up support for OpenStack, but also for Hadoop and an array of similar big data tools. Firms that seem to have the biggest interest in Elastic Storage would be in, at last report, in the sciences—particularly in seismic or weather modeling—or in financial product analysis.

Elastic Storage is said to draw on software-defined storage technology to help manage data and get that kind of rapid access to huge numbers of files. It's also helpful in terms of bolstering network function virtualization (NFV), allowing for it to be scaled rapidly in terms of either cloud use or on-premise systems use.

One thing, however, is quite readily clear: Elastic Storage is likely going to be a huge help in terms of helping to push the big data movement forward. There are essentially two major components that go into any big data operation: the data in question, and the tools necessary to sift through said data and derive the desired patterns, trends and conclusions held therein. Having the data on hand isn't exactly difficult; basic observations can generate a good portion of it, and getting the various customers and the like involved can also be a help with a few simple, well-placed incentives. It's converting that data into actionable trends and the like that can be difficult, and just where IBM looks to step in.

IBM already has quite a bit of name recognition in the sector; many of the biggest supercomputers around owe at least something to IBM. A recent interview with IBM CEO Virginia Rometty notes that IBM is “transforming this company for the next decade,” and the current evidence suggests that's what's going on. As big data works to transform the landscape across several industries as we know same today, having the tools on hand to work with all that data is only going to be more important.

While only time will tell just how well IBM's Elastic Storage works with large amounts of data and helps spark the growth of NFV, there are two people out there right now who are likely convinced of its overall effectiveness: Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Writer

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