IBM buys Israeli SAN firm to secure storage future

If there was any doubt that clustering is the future of storage, IBM’s acquisition of Israeli-based storage area network specialist XIV should put that to rest.

XIV’s Nextra systems use industry-standard components including Intel processors, Gigabit Ethernet switches and Linux-based management software, an approach number of manufactures have recently started to adopt.

According to Forrester Research analyst Andrew Reichman, its an architecture that promises lower storage costs and greater scalability for organizations with demanding workloads such as hosting Web 2.0 and digital media applications.

“This has the potential to be a smart move for IBM,” he said.

Using this design, parts of which are offered in products from competitors such as Isilon Systems, Compellent, Lefhand Networks, 3PAR and Dell’s EqualLogic division, if the system need to grow, just add more low-cost processors and disks.

IBM announced the acquisition, which industry speculation puts at about US$300 million, on the last day of 2007.

Most of XIV’s customers are in Israel and the U.S., but David Vaughn, IBM’s worldwide marketing manager for storage products said that “with our global organization, we will be calling on Canadian customers very soon.”

An XIV system can scale from 120 to 1,280 SATA II hard drives, with up to 120 dual-core CPUs. Connectivity is through Fibre Channel, iSCSI or SCSI-3 protocols. Vaughn wouldn’t say how the systems will be now priced by IBM. He did say that they will have an IBM name on them later this year.

“We’ve acquired an architecture which allows us the address emerging workloads like Web 2.0 in a way current architectures don’t,” he said in explaining the acquisition.

However, while Reichman says XIV – and some others – don’t have a key element that in his opinion will make the dream of cheap, flexible storage a reality: A native file-based network attached storage (NAS) system.

Only Isilon has one, he said. XIV and others still use block-based storage. 3PAR doesn’t use industry-standard servers, he added. IBM can offer NAS connectivity through its partnership with Network Appliance, he said, but NetApp is a competitor in this space, which means there’s “potential for disruption.”

Meanwhile storage giant EMC is moving into this space by leaking it is working on systems dubbed “Maui” which does some things a clustered file system does, the company has said. Reichman said EMC has also picked up some of the software expertise needed with its purchase of backup service provider Berkely Data Systems.

These moves mean that IBM is playing catch-up with EMC by buying XIV, he said.

Still, clustered or grid-like storage around an industry-standard architecture is the future, Reichman said. Some workloads will benefit from dedicated hardware-accelerated storage systems, he said, but the percentage of them is decreasing.

“This is probably the future of mainstream storage.”

In other industry news, NetApp said Thursday it will buy Boston-based Onaro Inc., an enterprise storage service management software manufacturer. In a news release the companies said that for existing NetApp customers, the acquisition enables new storage service management and change management capabilities. For Onaro customers, the acquisition was said to bring to Onaro products a significant R&D engine and financial strength to significantly advance product development over the coming years.

The deal is expected to close this quarter.

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

Featured Articles

Empowering the hybrid workforce: how technology can build a better employee experience

Across the country, employees from organizations of all sizes expect flexibility...

What’s behind the best customer experience: How to make it real for your business

The best customer experience – the kind that builds businesses and...

Overcoming the obstacles to optimized operations

Network-driven optimization is a top priority for many Canadian business leaders...

Thriving amid Canada’s tech talent shortage

With today’s tight labour market, rising customer demands, fast-evolving cyber threats...

Staying protected and compliant in an evolving IT landscape

Canadian businesses have changed remarkably and quickly over the last few...

Related Tech News

Tech Jobs

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.

Tech Companies Hiring Right Now