EMC, AT&T Partner On 'Atmos' Cloud Storage


The new technology was unveiled to an audience of 7,000 customers and partners attending the company's annual EMC World conference, held this week in Orlando, Fla.

EMC's Atmos onLine service is a highly scalable and highly reliable online storage infrastructure built on the company's Atmos technology, which was unveiled last year when it was known as "Project Maui," said Mike Feinberg, senior vice president and general manager of EMC's cloud infrastructure business.

Cloud computing is a way to dynamically combine and scale server, storage, networking and other resources outside a company's own traditional data center for such purposes as remote data storage or running software as a service. A company can build an internal cloud, which allows those resources to be available for its own purposes, or can use external clouds, which are available over the Internet.

The Atmos technology makes it possible for a service provider to offer cloud-based storage that is scalable to Petabytes of capacity and can be stretched over multiple sites scattered around the world, Feinberg said.

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Most important, Feinberg said, is that Atmos allows customers to attach different policies to different types of storage. For instance, he said, customers might use the storage service differently for free capacity vs. paid-for capacity, or for use by the company CEO vs. everyone else.

Joe Tucci, EMC's chairman, president and CEO, said it is not EMC's intention with Atmos onLine to make a major play for online services. Instead, Tucci said, EMC wants to enable partners.

"The best way to do that is have a reference center," Tucci said. "So we have a small reference center online and working. EMC is not going into the business of building data centers or building up a big cloud infrastructure."

Unlike EMC's Decho online storage service, which is based on its Mozy technology and aimed mainly at consumer and small-business users, Atmos onLine is an enterprise-class storage service that can scale to the needs of the largest customers, Feinberg said.

EMC's Atmos technology lets customers combine internal and external storage clouds into a single architecture, Feinberg said. They can use Atmos to build a scalable internal storage cloud, and then tie it seamlessly to either EMC's Atmos onLine external storage cloud or another online storage service, he said.

That ability to federate both internal and external clouds and tie that federation with corporate policies is important as customers look to keep part of their data behind their corporate firewalls and the rest available on the Internet, Feinberg said.

For instance, EMC's RSA Security Division has a data leakage prevention feature that can be used to automatically determine whether data is subject to policies that, say, are designed to prevent information containing Social Security Numbers from being released. Such data can be tagged by RSA as "confidential," keeping it inside the corporate firewall on the internal storage cloud, he said.

EBay is already using Atmos to host photos related to its customers' auctions. AT&T, meanwhile, is using Atmos to power its Synaptic Storage-as-a-Service enterprise-class on-demand storage offering, said Steve Caniano, vice president of hosting and application services at AT&T.

Caniano said there is a real demand for RAID-level protection on the cloud, and AT&T is working with EMC to develop scalable storage and protection on a worldwide basis.

Synaptic Storage-as-a-Service already has launched on two of AT&T's Internet data centers worldwide and will eventually go global, Caniano said.

AT&T is offering the service an a pay-as-needed basis, although Caniano said customers could pay for it on a contract basis. It scales to multiple Petabytes, with customers paying only for the actual storage that is used.

EMC on Monday also unveiled its EMC Velocity Atmos Partner Program under which it is providing APIs to ISVs to create applications leveraging both its Atmos and its Atmos onLine offerings.