IBM revitalizes its storage strategy with start-up buy

* IBM acquires XIV Information Systems chaired by developer of EMC’s Symmetrix

The New Year brings us lots of surprises - IBM acquiring XIV Information Systems to revitalize its storage story being one of them. Big Blue's acquisition of the Israeli start-up as the year has barely begun is sure to bolster its storage business. Industry pundits have ascribed the acquisition for two reasons: to replace IBM's System Storage DS8000 or provide a grid-like storage for Web 2.0 applications such as digital content.

IBM’s motivation in making the acquisition may also be to pick up the talents of XIV Chairman, Moshe Yanai. Yanai is known for his development of EMC’s flagship Symmetrix storage array.

XIV’s product, Nextra, is a clustered system that uses commodity servers containing 7,200 RPM Serial ATA drives. In a Nextra cluster, data is written in 1MB blocks across all the drives in the cluster. If a disk in the cluster fails, data is capable of being rebuilt in as little as 15 minutes, according to XIV’s claims (see my blog “What the number 14 means to IBM”).

Nextra consists of data modules that are x86-based servers, interface modules – also Intel based servers, gigabit Ethernet switches and UPS units. The data modules store data, while the interface modules provide the Fibre Channel or iSCSI connectivity. Ethernet switches connect the data and interface modules and the UPSes provide sufficient power to the system in the event of a power outage.

Among the features integrated with Nextra are snapshotting, remote mirroring and thin provisioning – all features customers are demanding.

Whatever IBM’s motivation is for acquiring XIV, the move is likely to get storage companies scrambling to show how their systems are better than what IBM can provide.

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