I’ve been trying to get my head wrapped around IBM’s new XIV product – and not having much luck. When the acquisition was announced Andy Monshaw, general manager, IBM system storage, said it would “. . . put IBM in the best position to address emerging storage opportunities like Web 2.0 applications, digital archives and digital media.”


XIV is a block device. Most of the major players in digital media, NetApp, Isilon and the up-and-coming Omneon in particular, are file based. Yes, there are people in digital media who still buy block storage because of its perceived advantage in on-time frame delivery. More of them are retiring every year.

Data Direct Networks makes screaming fast high-bandwidth block storage that is pretty popular for 2K, 4K and even 8K digital video. But they also offer a filesystem to run on top of that storage if the customer wants.

IBM knows this – or someone does – since they resell DDN.

Does calling it grid make it better?
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there is something behind the XIV acquisition beyond sticking it to EMC by hiring the inventor of the Symmetrix. A scalable, cluster-based, high-performance and high availability block storage system is a Good Thing.

So why not market that? Clearly IBM has an issue with product feature deficits for mission critical enterprise applications. After all XIV has only been shipping for two years.

But those issues are fixable. IBM has fixed them many times before. No one fixes them better. Faster maybe, but not better.

So why cripple a product that looks to offer significant advantages over big iron monolithic storage by putting the word “grid” in front of it? After all Grid is dead.

Is the data center suddenly clamoring for grid? Somebody please tell me.

The StorageMojo take
I hope there is a cohesive strategy behind the XIV product. But so far I’m not able to even guess what it might be.

Maybe the decades of warfare between geeks and suits has so totally paralyzed the product marketing function that even the normal IBM facade can’t cover the cracks. It must be something.

XIV is a good idea and long overdue. Lots of good advertised features, including many that work I’m sure.

But there is much weirdness in the system that – if IBM wants a return on their rumored $350 million – needs to get fixed and soon.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Whoever comes up with the most creative explanation wins a talking orange YottaYotta cube. Cats love it!