Industry people also have questioned whether XIV is really that innovative, since many storage companies now use off-the-shelf components to house their software.
"Everybody gets to use the 26 letters of the alphabet, but some people write much better than others," Hill said. "So using common components does not mean that everyone will get the same results.
"And not everyone uses the same software, which is the secret sauce that differentiates products. For example, everyone can use SATA [serial ATA] drives, but not everyone can get the enterprise-class reliability and performance that XIV gets through massive parallelism and its own spin on grid architecture. The way that it partitions chunks of data and keeps all spindles active is key to its success. So yes, XIV is that innovative."
Hill also said that "new ways of doing business take some getting used to," and the storage business is no different.
"Understanding what XIV is and how it is different can take some getting used to, but, given its announced sales results, IBM seems to be making its case effectively. IBM's competitors are going to have to pay increased attention to it," Hill said.
Mark Peters of Enterprise Strategy Group reminded eWEEK that storage based on commodity components is a strategy that is selling very well.
"Storage based on commodity components integrated with high functioning software seems to be both proven [3PAR, Dell's Equallogic, HP's Lefthand Networks] and growing in popularity [Sun's Open Storage and even the new VMax from EMC]," Peters said.
"Just because many are doing it does not diminish its value-one could argue it substantiates the approach."
XIV Founder Travels to Sales Calls
Israel-based XIV might be relatively unknown, but in the January 2008 transaction IBM was able to sign up one of the true original thinkers in the business: XIV founder Moshe Yanai, the man who helped in a big way to put EMC on the storage map in the 1990s.
EMC now is the largest storage company in the world, and certainly much of that success can be attributed to its high-end enterprise Symmetrix (now DMX) storage arrays, of which Yanai was the chief developer.
In fact, Yanai owns 40 storage system patents, many of which now are key ingredients in EMC's closely guarded intellectual property. Before joining EMC in 1987, Yanai had built IBM-compatible mainframe storage based on minicomputer disks.
Yanai, since being appointed IBM fellow at the time of the acquisition, continues to work on a full-time basis in the ramp-up of XIV sales. He travels extensively, meeting with customers at their sites to explain the system and its intricacies, an IBM spokesperson said.
While not part of his team's day-to-day operation, Yanai meets with the XIV development team on a regular basis, IBM said.