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IBM VISION Cloud: "We Are Targeting an Open Specification"
Exclusive Interview with Dr. Yaron Wolfsthal, IBM Haifa

The EU-funded VISION Cloud initiative, led by IBM, has been launched and is focused on creating a metadata format that will enable users' data to be interoperable among Cloud service providers. This is potentially a huge development for all business, but especially small businesses, which run the risk of vendor lock-in and general unhappiness when they find that it's not cost-effective to switch Cloud vendors should they encounter problems.

IBM heads the list of 15 organizations participating in this initiative. The research is being conducted out of an IBM facility in Haifa, Israel. Cloud Computing Journal was able to learn more about the initiative from Dr, Yaron Wolfsthal, IBM's senior manager responsible for VISION Cloud,

Here's what we asked and what he answered:

Cloud Computing Journal: What are the key, high-level architectural challenges that you face in creating a way to handle portable metadata in the cloud?

Dr. Yaron Wolfsthal: Architecture challenges for this project include (a) Meeting the multiple requirements which we will collect from the various stakeholders (telco, media, healthcare, enterprise applications. (b) Coherently integrating the technology components which will be the foundations of the architecture ("storage objects with metadata", "computational storage", "content-centric access," etc.

CCJ: Is there a "pure science" approach to this project, in that you will need to examine several possible ways to handle certain technical challenges each step of the way? Or do you already have a clear roadmap of where you are going?

Wolfsthal: It is a scientific project. During the long months in which we have defined the goals of the project, we naturally did develop some thoughts on the technical approaches to pursue in order to solve some of the key problems and challenges we identified. But in general, this is a research project where we will examine multiple directions, evaluate alternatives, etc.

CCJ: Are you driving toward some sort of open standard? Whether you are or not, how important will vendor buy-in be to your work? By vendor buy-in, I mean infrastructure companies, software developers, and perhaps most important, Cloud service providers.


Wolfsthal: In principle we are targeting an open specification, open APIs etc. The participation of the SNIA.Europe (this is the European chapter of the Storage Networking Industry Association) will help us promote the open Specifications and standards developed/extended by the project beyond the boundaries of the project.

CCJ: Do you have a timeline for completion? Or, is this the sort of thing that will never be truly finished, but subject to continuous, iterative improvement?


Wolfsthal: The project's duration is three years. We plan to complete a blueprint of the architecture during the first year. Thereafter, we will incrementally implement the underlying technologies to produce a reference implementation and in parallel validate it against the scenarios we identified which are provided by our media/telco/healtchare/enterprise partners. At the end of the project we will deliver the architecture and the final reference
Implementation, but throughout the lifetime of the project we expect to also release intermediate versions of them.

About Roger Strukhoff
Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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