A little bit off topic – IBM XIV

I traditionally stay focused on data protection in this blog, but wanted to make a quick digression. Specifically, I wanted to comment briefly on some weirdness around IBM and their XIV product line. IBM has recently been positioning XIV storage inside their new deduplication enabled VTL. Anyone considering these solutions should spend some time trying to understand XIV.

IBM bought XIV about 8 months ago. XIV was an Israeli company founded by industry guru Moshe Yanai. Yanai is clearly a smart guy having developed EMC’s Symmetric Storage system. He is experienced and talented, and his company, XIV, was developing next generation clustered storage. When IBM bought XIV, they said that it “could mark the end to RAID5 and mark the beginnings of a new disk storage architecture” (Quote courtesy of Tony Pearson, IBM employee and author of Inside Systems Blog).

All of the above sounds great, the problem is IBM just announced the first XIV product in Europe only with very little fanfare. It is quite odd, if the product is as revolutionary as they had previously suggested, wouldn’t you expect them to make a big deal out of it? Where are the analyst quotes? Where is the evangelizing? The short answer is that there has been none! What gives?

There have been numerous posts in the blogosphere about this. One of the earliest folks was Barry Burke from EMC on his StorageAnarchist blog. Blocks and Files, NetworkWorld and eWeek have also chimed in. Everyone is confused by this, Network World notes that the features are very limited in the product and eWeek goes so far as to suggest that the entire XIV acquisition was a failure!

The noteworthy point of the announced XIV solution is that its feature set is unimpressive and it only comes in one configuration, RAID 1 and 180 TB raw/80 TB usable. If you want any more storage that means a second XIV; if you want less, that means you get a fully populated XIV and you will only be licensed for the amount you are using. This makes for completely weird economics. No matter how much storage you want, you get 180 TB raw. You want 20 TB, no problem, you get 180 disks. Want 5 TB, they can meet that requirement as well although it requires 180 disks!

I have no idea what IBM is doing with this launch, but in my opinion, IBM has made a big blunder. When announcing a product, you either have to be fully committed with all resources behind or hold off. This half-baked launch where they only announced it in EMEA only is just plain odd and it leaves everyone, myself included, wondering what is really going on. From a product standpoint, I think that they probably encountered more challenges than originally expected and so were forced to delay the launch of the fully functional XIV. Why they launched the half-baked version in Europe is beyond me…

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