IBM's claims that acquiring XIV was about "positioning the company to address emerging storage opportunities like Web 2.0 applications, digital archives and digital media," are hard to swallow at the moment. While there are similarities, such as dirt cheap components, spreading data and self-healing, Web 2.0 storage attributes include a highly distributed file system, not block-based storage in close proximity.
In fairness to IBM, Andy Monshaw, General Manager IBM System Storage stressed 'long term' and the company may have other 'aha' cards to play in this game of invigorating its storage portfolio. But it seems more likely in the immediate term that IBM has 1) acquired a strong development team and strengthened its ability to attract and retain talent in Israel, an emerging strategic global development center; and 2) taken steps to regain control of its midrange, general purpose storage which the company has ceded to LSI and Netapp.
It's the latter point that will most likely have an impact in the near term and explains why IBM is positioning NEXTRA, XIV's architecture, as far from its current midrange as possible so as not to disrupt demand. But it's highly likely that IBM will begin to deploy higher- and lower-end versions of NEXTRA and migrate existing midrange and even higher-end DS8000 customers to the new architecture.
Picture this. In the second half of 2008, IBM announces a new innovative line of clustered enterprise storage arrays that are virtualized, high performance and scale from very small to very large using dirt cheap, off-the-shelf components. The company puts on a big marketing push largely aimed at migrating (and protecting) existing customers and, as well, attacking traditional monolithic architectures as outdated. Current IBM customers get to buy into the new vision at very attractive prices and IBM may even gain some share in the process.
While this sounds like a familiar refrain from IBM (except for the innovative clustered part) this time the company may have an architecture with some staying power.
Action Item: Loyal IBM customers should take a wait-and-see approach with NEXTRA and push IBM to more credibly position today's offering, or expose the XIV/NEXTRA/clustered storage roadmap to Web 2.0.