The service will appeal to those developers who want to incorporate object storage into their apps. Access to the IBM Object Storage will be through a set of APIs that enables developers to search and retrieve unstructured data and then incorporate that data into their apps.
Helping users find data
A simple example of this would be building an app to search a corporate web site to find content inside PowerPoint presentations. This is a pain point for many people especially sales and marketing teams who often have to search through thousands of PowerPoints created inside the organisation each year. The app would allow them to identify individual elements on slides and return a list of presentations that the user could then select from.
What makes this interesting is that the IBM Object Storage APIs will also enable a developer to target cloud-based storage based on the OpenStack Swift object storage model. This means that apps will be able to search through unstructured data in multiple cloud instances as well as on-premises private clouds to find data.
This is more than just a solution to help users find lost PowerPoint data, images, documents or spreadsheets. It can also be used to provide an alternative way to do analysis on unstructured data. While IBM has a range of other solutions to do that sort of analysis they can be expensive and are rarely used by small companies. With the ability to use Bluemix to build a search application for unstructured data, developers can target small companies or even specific business units.
Bluemix taking advantage of the Cleversafe acquisition
According to the press release developers taking advantage of IBM Object Storage, which allows them to access the OpenStack Object Storage (Swift) API for API-based data access and OpenStack Identity (Keystone) for authentication, gain the follow benefits:
- The ability to compose and bind apps to object files – both inside and outside of Bluemix
- Identity management and authentication to help protect against unauthorized access to object-based data.
- A service dashboard user interface for simple management
- Object browser, drag-and-drop upload and download from the developer’s desktop
- Industry-adopted OpenStack Swift API and SDKs to access the object store
- Service keys to access and use Object Storage with external apps and services
- Security isolation for each object storage instance within Bluemix
This is not just about a set of APIs. IBM is looking at how it can best integrate Cleversafe as part of its Object Storage strategy. Rather than simply add Cleversafe to its storage portfolio IBM has decided to add it to the IBM Cloud business unit.
With this announcement and the completion of the Cleversafe deal, IBM is ensuring that developers will not have to worry about where data is stored. For many this will be a relief as they do not want to find themselves having to write complex programmes to search across multiple data storage locations.
IBM continues to add more and more capability to Bluemix and integrate it into other areas of its business. By providing the ability to search unstructured data stored in any OpenStack Object Storage (Swift) environment IBM is providing developers with the ability to search across multiple clouds.
IT departments are beginning to work with their business units to get some structure into the number of cloud instances where data is currently being stored. Building apps that can search everywhere will reassure business units that IT is no longer being a blocker to the use of cloud. More importantly, it will also enable IT security teams to search across cloud storage to find sensitive data that is not properly secured.
It will be interesting to see if we also see IBM take advantage of these APIs and embed them into other parts of its cloud platform such as management tools and IT security tools. While having this in Bluemix is extremely useful there it no guarantee that these other parts of IT will want to write their own apps in Bluemix. Integration with the tools that these teams currently use will help them cope with multiple cloud environments and simplify their jobs.
Delivering a solution for developers which means that cloud storage is as simple to address as local storage is important. It will speed up the development of applications and ensure that no additional training is required.