IBM Quietly Launches XIV Platform

Arthur Cole

Some people are wondering what's going on over at IBM with the launch of the new block-based XIV storage system. In fact, if alert bloggers hadn't picked up on the few discretely posted Web pages announcing the system's availability, it's questionable that anyone would have realized the product had been released.

This is odd behavior, to say the least, particularly after IBM made a big splash last fall in acquiring the Nextra platform from Isreal's XIV for more than $300 million. You'd think the company would be crowing about a major component of its grid-based storage strategy based on technology developed by none other than Moshe Yanai, creator of the original EMC Symmetrix platform.

Still, the product is out, and by the looks of things it has a robust set of features that supports IBM's claim of a "revolutionary grid-based architecture." Among them:

  • 180 1 TB disk drives
  • 120 GB of cache
  • Four 4 Gb Fibre Channel ports
  • Six 1 Gb iSCSI ports
  • Three uninterruptible power supplies
  • A software platform that offers an array of features, including advanced writable snapshot technology capable of up to 16,000 full or differential copies; synchronous mirroring over FC or iSCSI connections; in-band data migration; and thin provisioning in which the physical capacity only needs to be larger than the actual data, not the logical volume.

Still, that hasn't stopped critics from picking the system apart. Industry analyst Arun Tenaja told Network World that he doesn't see any indication of a clustered controller design, which is a must for next-gen Fibre Channel systems and virtualized storage environments.


Meanwhile, The Storage Anarchist, also know as Barry Burke, chief strategist for EMC's Symmetrix system, points out that the 180 TB disks only provide 80 TB of usable storage, and you can't buy an XIV with less than 180 drives, so the power draw will be substantial no matter how much of the system you actually use. There's also a lack of mirrored cache writes, and replication is only available over synchronous distances to about 200 km.


IBM may or may not have reasonable answers to these criticisms, but it's hard to tell. It's just not saying much at the moment.

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