IBM Finally Upgrades Its XIV Storage System

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-07-14 Print this article Print

XIV's Tier 1 external-disk system is completely distributed. It packages all data storage into 1MB chunks and spreads them around the system, so that no one or two disks have to handle most of the workload. This saves on disk life and increases performance.

A full 18 months after IBM plunked down $300 million in January 2008 to buy relatively unknown XIV and its large-scale storage systems, Big Blue on July 14 finally announced its own enhancements to the product line.

XIV's Tier 1 external-disk system is completely distributed. It packages all data storage into 1MB chunks and spreads them around the system, so that no one or two disks have to handle most of the workload. This saves on disk life and increases performance. When more arms of the system are used-and load-balanced-hot spots and well-worn disks in the system are avoided.

Like several other companies now offer, XIV also sports high-end features-at no extra cost-such as unlimited snapshots, I/O load balancing and automatic configuration that can be deployed on relatively inexpensive commodity hardware.

The XIV enhancements introduced July 14 are largely based on the addition of new multi-core processors, which nearly always bring performance improvements.

In actuality, the improvements to the system overall are minor in scope.

The new functionality includes support of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), which enables single sign-on and consolidated access control for multiple systems; and Tivoli Productivity Center 4.1 support, designed to simplify cross-systems management.

David Vaughn, IBM's information infrastructure offering manager, told eWEEK that IBM also plans to add support for asynchronous mirroring later this year for the XIV Storage System.

"This will enable remote disaster site recovery without a limit on distance and without impacting response time, and will help customers protect information from local outages, ensuring the continuing availability of critical information," Vaughn said.

"For example, a hospital using the XIV storage system would be able to continuously mirror medical test results to a site thousands of miles away, enabling medical professionals to access patient information at all times."

Vaughn said XIV is aimed at large data center operations that handle workloads such as financial services, health care records and services, and scientific research.

IBM also announced that it is making available a thin-provisioning feature for its standard DS8000 enterprise storage system at a cost of about $69,000.

Thin provisioning supports continuous operations for cross-platform, mission-critical workloads; it also increases storage capacity utilization with little or no loss in performance.

Analysts Have Been Waiting for XIV News

A number of industry analysts have been wondering when IBM would come out with some XIV news and have been blogging opinions that perhaps Big Blue wasn't overly enamored about what was coming out of the XIV garage.

Longtime storage analyst David Hill of The Mesabi Group disputed those perspectives.

"IBM claims nearly 1,000 units sold in one year across a range of verticals with a strong emphasis on the enterprise space," Hill told eWEEK. "Moreover, IBM claims strong sales to non-IBM customers, which means a net gain in market share for IBM. That is actually a very impressive track record for XIV since its acquisition by IBM."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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