Opinion: IBM snaps up EMC visionary with XIV

In the storage world, stories don't get much more intriguing than this one.

IBM buys many small firms over the course of a year. But the acquisition of Israel-based XIV has special significance (see "IBM buys Israeli storage start-up XIV"). XIV has been selling storage arrays it calls Nextra since 2005 at the rate of about 2 petabytes per year to some household name accounts in Israel plus two or three others in the US. That's a lot of storage from a company most of us have never heard of. And IBM has reportedly paid something like $350 million for this heretofore unknown storage company. But what adds spice to this deal is the fact that XIV's chairman is none other than the legendary Moshe Yanai -- the man many regard as the father of EMC's flagship storage array, Symmetrix. As EMC's head of engineering Yanai was the chief architect behind Symmetrix.

So here we have IBM, who hasn't made an outright acquisition of a major new storage architecture for as long as some of us old timers can remember (if ever), and who has been content lately to leverage the IP of others like LSI Corp. and Network Appliance Inc. rather than its own storage R&D. This same IBM is now laying down a large sum for an unknown whose name is pronounced "Ex Eye Vee" and is chaired by Mr. Symmetrix himself. In the storage world, stories don't get much more intriguing than this one.

Contrary to some reports I've seen, IBM characterizes XIV's Nextra technology as a grid architecture. The XIV folks call it RAID X. You can even call Nextra revolutionary if you want. I hesitate to do that now, but only because I don't have enough space here to defend myself. IBM will position Nextra in emerging applications such as Web 2.0 and video surveillance. You may see other applications for Nextra as well once you get to know it and I won't argue with you. Nor will I argue with you if you conclude that IBM and Moshe have just shaken up a recently sleepy storage industry.

One more intriguing thing: Resist converting XIV in your mind to 14. I was told that XIV has a significant meaning, but not as a roman numeral. I'll leave it to you to decipher the real meaning.

John Webster is the principal IT adviser for research firm Illuminata Inc. He is also the author of numerous articles and white papers on a wide range of topics and is the co-author of the book Inescapable Data: Harnessing the Power of Convergence (IBM Press, 2005). Webster can be reached at jwebster@illuminata.com.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon