XIV Ups The Ante With Solid-state Caching

Keeping up with all the solid-state news is a consuming process. Aside from the simple avalanche of raw-specsmanship news (the ultimate game of techno-leapfrog right now), what is worth trying to capture are developing and shifting market trends. Earlier this week came the Lightning announcement from EMC, which was covered in my blog from Monday and (with a similar angle but in his own inimitable style...with added sprinkles!) by Steve Duplessie in his blog from yesterday. EMC's news made it explicit that it is putting solid-state of some sort throughout the storage stack. Meanwhile, yesterday's news from the XIV side of IBM makes it clear that everyone and every product that plays in networked storage is going to have solid-state implemented in some form or fashion.

While IBM's XIV product has been the no tiering, just-throw-it-all-in-there-and-it-works product from the beginning, everyone understands the principle value-prop of solid-state-use enough to make a tremendous difference to throughput and/or response times, but not so much that the cost-benefit equation gets iffy. Now, XIV has been trucking along pretty well in the market (over 5,000 units shipped, and gaining 1,300 new-to-IBM-storage users) and has gained fans within IBM as well as with its users, especially for its GUI, which is now-essentially-found on V7000, DS8000, and SONAS too. But to all its auto-whizz-bang-scalable-simplicity, IBM is now adding solid-state caching. Not a tier per se, but extended caching. Why? It's easy to just say 'performance' but I think it's more than that. For ages XIV has concentrated on winning the 'price-performance' battle and its chunky solid-state addition (up to 6TB per rack) combined with its existing 'smarts' and the Inifiband backplane should help it in that arena. The principle has worked in other parts of IBM's storage portfolio, using the Easy Tier function, and there's every reason it will be popular in XIV too.

The broader market significance of this therefore is the move towards ubiquity for solid-state across all vendors and products. And - assuming it works well for IBM's XIV users - they'll also be able to use another of the XIV announcements this week to help them show their colleagues how smart they are: a genuine iPhone app (the iPAd was there already) to track and monitor the system. I wonder if they'll rename the product iXIV?

You can read Mark's other blog entries at The Business of Storage.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure