IBM SmartCloud Enterprise–Object Storage cloud plans expansion

IBM SmartCloud Enterprise–Object Storage cloud service plans to expand and offer customers 99.999% availability with three or more copies of data.

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IBM SmartCloud Enterprise–Object Storage combines dedicated disk-based hardware, software licensed from Nirvanix Inc. and point-of-delivery locations at third-party data centers operated by Equinix Inc. into a storage service that targets unstructured data, including documents, spreadsheets, audio files and email.

IBM uses Equinix facilities in New Jersey and Germany, with dedicated network and hardware infrastructure for its customers. Nirvanix uses the same Equinix data centers, but the IBM and Nirvanix environments are kept separate, according to George Contino, a product manager for SmartCloud Enterprise storage at IBM.

Contino said IBM plans to expand into more data centers. The expansion will allow clients to keep three or more copies of data in the cloud and give IBM the ability to support 99.999% availability, better than the current 99.99% availability from two copies, Contino said.

Getting started/connected

The SmartCloud Enterprise (SCE)-Object Storage that IBM made available in 2012 falls under the umbrella of the company's SCE public cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The REST API is the native connectivity method to SmartCloud Enterprise-Object Storage. Users can code or develop application integration, but IBM said 80% to 90% of its customers use a cloud storage gateway product from a third party, such as Oxygen Cloud, Panzura or TwinStrata.

Storage gateways enable the use of block-level iSCSI or file-level CIFS and NFS on the front end and do the necessary conversion to the REST API on the back end to send data to SmartCloud Enterprise-Object Storage. Users get the additional benefits of features such as encryption, deduplication and snapshots.

Data center locations

Secaucus, N.J., and Frankfurt, Germany


Customers have two pricing options for SCE-Object Storage:

  • Pay-as-you-go, with no commitment necessary for usage.
  • Object storage package of 10 terabytes (TB), 50 TB, 100 TB or 250 TB for monthly average object storage; packages are subject to a minimum monthly recurring charge.

Uncommitted pay-as-you-go usage: A usage charge for "monthly average object storage" used (rounded to next whole gigabyte) applies. IBM defines monthly average object storage as the sum of the daily object storage amounts divided by the number of days in the billing period, rounded up to the next whole gigabyte. The charge for the monthly average of the daily snapshots is $0.165 per GB for the first TB and declines gradually to $0.080 for more than 5 petabytes (PB).

Object storage packages: Usage charges for object storage packages are subject to a minimum monthly recurring charge for the commitment level selected. For instance, a customer who commits to 10 TB pays $0.157 per GB per month, and the charges drop in stages to $0.076 per GB for more than 5 PB. A customer who commits to 250 TB pays $0.132 per GB per month for the first TB, and the fee scales down to $0.064 per GB for more than 5 PB.

Bandwidth pricing for Internet data transfer is tiered based upon the monthly aggregated data transfer amount for all outbound data transfers. There are no upload charges for inbound data transfers to object storage. Monthly pricing for data transfers ranges from $0.150 per GB for the first 10 TB to $0.080 per GB for more than 150 TB.

(Note: All pricing information is valid as of April 1, 2013)

Service-level agreement

IBM offers 99.9% availability for one copy of the data in cloud-based storage and 99.99% for two copies in the cloud. IBM's expansion plans call for 99.999% availability with three or more copies in the cloud.

IBM gives service credit as a percent of object storage charges. It gives a 25% service credit if object storage services are available for less than 99% of the time during a month, whether the customer has one or two copies in the cloud. IBM provides a 10% service credit if the services are available from 99% to 99.9% of the time with one copy in the cloud, and from 99% to 99.99% with two copies in the cloud.

IBM does not offer the option of custom service-level agreements (SLAs). For more on IBM SmartCloud Enterprise-Object Storage SLAs, click here.


Customers have a portal to manage object storage. They can create as many namespaces as they want with as many child accounts as they need tied to each namespace. They can also set quotas on storage consumption, bandwidth and file size, and view reports on daily activity.


SmartCloud Enterprise-Object Storage includes two-factor authentication to access the cloud file system, a 256-bit advanced encryption standard (AES) client, filename encryption in data transfers and a unique 128-bit token-based authorization key for each application name (namespace) created. Customers can use their Active Directory or LDAP directories to control access to users and groups from their environment.

Additional notes

IBM also offers SmartCloud Managed Backup (formerly known as Information Protection Services) and SmartCloud Content Management (formerly known as SmartCloud Archive) services. Neither uses object-based storage. SmartCloud Managed Backup, which became available in 2008 after IBM's acquisition of Arsenal Digital, uses file-based storage on disk. SmartCloud Content Management uses block-based storage on disk.

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