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EMC's Atmos cloud storage aims to tie together global data depositories

It offers worldwide data storage for Web 2.0 uses

By Todd R. Weiss
November 10, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - In an offering aimed at helping businesses tie together their complex data-storage systems in diverse locations around the world, EMC Corp. today unveiled its new Atmos cloud infrastructure product.

Atmos, which previously had been code-named Maui, is a policy-based information management application that places copies of data in various sites around the world, then allows users to manage its dissemination to others based on policies that can be set for specific users, said Mike Feinberg, the senior vice president and general manager of EMC's cloud infrastructure group.

"It's policy-based, so data can be classified to move at different rates for different customers who have different service needs," Feinberg said. "It can be changed dynamically."

Atmos, which will be sold as software alone or as a system including industry-standard servers loaded with the application, will initially be aimed at online service providers, such as video- or image-sharing vendors that need to store and access large amounts of data around the world, Feinberg said.

"When we first looked at this, we thought there's only a handful of customers, 20 or 30," that could take advantage of this new cloud storage technology, Feinberg said. But the company also talked to customers in other areas, such as oil and gas exploration and financial services, and "they expressed interest," he said.

"We're focusing on Web 2.0 uses ... but practically speaking, many other customers said they have too much data and can't manage it" today, he said.

Atmos appliances will be sold in 120TB, 240TB and 360TB configurations, the company said.

Some customers have been trying out the new technology for the past 12 to 18 months, though none would yet speak about it publicly, he said. No pricing information has been announced.

One of the big differences between Atmos and other storage systems is that most traditional storage focuses on the delivery of data in a single data center. That data center can then be set up to communicate with one other data center, but not to communicate with many others around the world.

"There are no other products inside EMC that have these capabilities," Feinberg said. "It's a different mind-set that we're going after ... a different architecture."

Analysts agreed that Atmos ushers in some key new capabilities for enterprise users.

Ben Woo, an analyst at market research firm IDC, called Atmos "quite revolutionary" because it's a new category that will allow storage devices in geographically diverse locations to talk with one another. That allows corporate data to become much more than stored information sitting in a remote repository, Woo said. By being able to access data from anywhere and share it with applications that need it via specific policies, it now brings context and value to the stored data that couldn't be taken advantage of in the past, he said.

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