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EMC takes wraps off Atmos cloud plans

EMC Corp. says that it has a handful of Web 2.0 service providers using its new Atmos cloud-optimized storage (COS) product, but none that were ready to discuss it today. So for now, Atmos is an interesting technology announcement waiting for a reality check from customers.

And while EMC is focused on selling this to service providers initially, it does believe there’s an enterprise play down the line for media and entertainment, life sciences, and oil and gas companies interested in building private clouds. Somewhat confusingly, EMC also hinted at its plans eventually to become a service provider itself, which may cause some channel tension, but for now Atmos is a product only.

Here’s a taste of what EMC claims it will do. Atmos is a globally distributed file system (code-named Maui) that runs on purpose-built EMC hardware (code-named Hulk).

The software automatically distributes data, placing it on nodes across a network according to user-defined policies. These policies dictate what level of replication, versioning, compression, deduplication and disk drive spin-down a particular piece of data should have as it resides in the cloud. Depending on how important the information is, there might one, five, or 10 copies of it around the world, for example.

The closest thing out there today that resembles Atmos is

Atmos also provides Web service application programming interfaces, including Represntational State Transfer and Simple Object Access Protocol, as well as the Common Internet File System and Network File System support for integration with file services; a unified name space, browser-based admin tools and multitenant support for multiple applications to be served from the same infrastructure without co-mingling data. And Simple Network Management Protocol support provides a plugin to existing reporting tools on top of the existing reports and alerts Atmos offers, according to EMC.

The software ships on purpose-built hardware available in 120TB, 240TB or 360TB configurations. [Editor’s note: The National Center for Atmospheric Research has an archive already several petabytes in size. It would need at least three of these boxes to contain just its existing data. In other words 360 TB is large, but not that large by today’s standards].

There’s also a fit with VMware as Atmos can run on a VMware image, although Mike Feinberg, the senior VP of the cloud infrastructure group at EMC, says users don’t need VMware to use Atmos.

EMC did not announce pricing details today either, except to say that it’ll be competitive will existing petabyte-scale JBOD-type offerings.

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Hi Mike, Thanks for the comment. Would appreciate an update on Parascale when you have time. Cheers, Jo