IBM has outlined plans to dramatically reduce the size, power consumption and performance hurdles of enterprise storage systems in the coming years.
The company said at a press and analyst event in San Francisco that it will split its approach to storage, taking different paths for the needs of high-capacity storage systems and high-performance storage designs.
The split is part of IBM's strategy to tackle 'big data', where increasingly large and complex data pools become difficult to organise and analyse.
IBM is proposing the use of 'storage class memory' which exploits the development methods of solid-state storage to dramatically speed up performance and increase the lifespan of data archives.
Bruce Hillsberg, IBM Research director of storage systems, explained that part of the plan will involve integrating phase-change memory which functions in a similar way to re-writable DVD discs.
Phase-change chips retain information when powered down and can achieve much higher density, lifespan and performance than current flash storage chips.
"Imagine a system that is processing data which you can turn off and then turn back on and have the data remain in memory," Hillsberg said.
"We believe phase-change memory is one of those technologies that has the potential to replace flash."
IBM believes that the technology, when paired with the company's nano-scale racetrack memory research, can have a dramatic impact on storage density and performance.
A future system could match the storage and computing power of a current 1,200-rack, 14,000 square-foot datacentre in just one rack, according to IBM.
Charles King, founder and principal analyst at Pund-IT, told V3 that the ambitious presentation highlights IBM's efforts to address a storage market which has struggled to keep pace with the demands of cloud computing and big data.
"IBM is in the hunt, and there are technologies just over the horizon that will work with even more severe challenges. This is a forward-looking message from a company that continues to be not just a player but an innovator," he said.
In the shorter term, IBM said that it hopes to help businesses make better use of current systems.
Forrester Research principal analyst Andrew Reichman noted that many companies fail properly to apply storage management to meet the needs of their IT environments.
"There are a lot of tools out there, but what is lacking is the knowledge of where to apply each tool. You have to start at home and see what the problem is and figure out how to prioritise," he said.
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