IBM will be leading a joint research initiative of 15 European partners to develop smart cloud storage architecture, which is likely to improve the global delivery of rich data and storage services across boundaries of countries and vendors.

The research project will tackle the major challenges faced by today's storage clouds, including cost-effectiveness, data mobility across cloud providers, security guarantees, and the massive computing power demands that are affecting quality of service.

The consortium partners include standards bodies, media companies, telecommunications companies, healthcare companies, academic institutions and more.

The EU-funded initiative is called VISION Cloud.

Users now require capabilities that are far richer than simple raw bits and basic storage. To satisfy this need, the focus must shift to the data where the collections of bits are semantically meaningful and have associated metadata. Our aim is to develop the infrastructure to support this prominence of data and data-intensive services, said Hillel Kolodner, IBM Haifa researcher and lead architect for VISION Cloud.

IBM said VISION Cloud would provide storage services that could offer a digital safe service, through which people can safely store their digital information, including photos, videos, health records, financial records, and more.

For instance, when an expecting mother undergoes a 3D ultrasound, the image is automatically uploaded and stored in her digital safe. This ultrasound is stored together with metadata, such as the date, format, stage of pregnancy and content description. The metadata is stored as an integral part of the smart 'data object'. She can then give access to family, friends, or editing services, enabling them to download and view the video – no matter what kind of format their device or computer works with.

The world is generating data faster than we can store it. By optimizing delivery of data-intensive storage services, VISION Cloud will usher in a new era of more flexible, scalable, and secure cloud storage that can be delivered in a pay-per-use model,” said Kristof Kloekner, IBM VP Strategy & Enterprise Initiatives, Systems & Software and CTO Cloud.

Over the last three years, IBM has been actively developing technologies related to cloud computing across its server, software, services and R&D units. Currently, IBM's cloud portfolio includes offerings such as IBM Smart Business Development and Test Cloud, IBM Smart Analytics Cloud and the IBM Smart Business Storage Cloud.