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January 02, 2008



This has nothing to do with Dell and has everything with having a product to sell to existing IBM customers or use internally for IBM Global Services that is 'good enough'.

Remember, customers do not always buy 'best of breed' and IBM customers for years have invariably purchased 'good enough'.

IBM are unlikely to sell this product into customers that are not already buying IBM Z-series and p-series servers. They don't have a direct workforce strategy or a channel strategy that would support this.

I do expect however that IBM will make some inroads into the z-series space that IBM has competed on - and struggled to maintain commanding share - with EMC and HDS. They now will have something other than the DS8000 that they can bundle - and once it is brought into the IBM corporate portfolio and blued, it may be 'good enough' for customers to make a 100% IBM decision when laying out the cash for a new server-storage environment.

Chuck Hollis

Hi -- the points on "good enough" and "bundling" are well-taken.

It's not clear to me that XiV has the architectural underpinnings to support zOS attachment, so that's a bit of an open question.


David Meiri

In my experience from Symmetrix, supporting Mainframe connectivity is a pretty challenging task. Besides the complex and archaic CCW protocol on both Ficon and Escon, you need to be able to store CKD data efficiently and allow random access to any record in a track. Once you have basic IO going, you need to support numerous applications: PAV, Dynamic PAvs, Dynamic Path Reconnect, GIDN locks, XRC, multi-allegiance, PPRC, FlashCopy, and many more. IBM, bless their soul, keeps coming up with new storage protocol changes frequently, and the list from the last few years is staggering. In other words, I believe that even if XiV decides to implement MF connectivity, it will take them years before they have something close to the compatibility level of HDS, EMC or DS8000.

What this means is that IBM will need to continue to sell DS8000 and XiV, two completely incompatible architectures, with different management systems, different user interface, different performance characteristics, and of course, different hardware. If I were an IBM customer now with a mixed MF/OS environment, I'd get pretty nervous.

Chuck Hollis

You bring up some very interesting thoughts.

Yes, mainframe storage is very different and very hard, but Moshe has been there before, as have some of his engineers, and -- unlike our experience at EMC -- he'll be working at IBM, or that's the theory anyway.

Going a bit farther, you're right, we might see a replay of what happened in the AS400 (now iSeries) market where IBM succeeded in closing off most alternatives to IBM storage.

I could see the current DS8000 as the "lock in" array for mainframe environments, mostly through the continual feature enhancement IBM puts in zOS.

The bottom line: customers lose. We talk to iSeries customers all the time, and they don't like being trapped by IBM.

The DS8000 can't make it as a mainstream storage platform -- it's toast -- so the XiV platform would make a reasonable alternative for most of the workloads IBM encounters with their xSeries and pSeries servers.

Thanks for writing!

Barry Whyte

What I don't get is why you guys keep going on about DS8000 being dead? Its just has one of its best years ever sales wise, and other than the concerted effort of spinning obvious FUD, I don't see the correlation. It is being invested in, it sees a substantially larger investment year on year than we do in SVC and the roadmap continues.

CKD will always be the thorn in an Enterprise Controllers side, but maybe there's a new way to think about it.

Chuck Hollis

I know you're going to find this hard to believe, but -- this ain't FUD spinning -- we really believe that the DS8000 is dead from a product planning perspective.

We see it falling farther and farther behind EMC and HDS and few others in competitive features. We don't see how the dual-controller architecture will support future requirements, especially for large enterprises. We don't see it picking up decent modern technology, like 4Gb FC, larger drives, IP connectivity, etc.

Just like in the real world, if it doesn't look like it's moving, we assume the worst.

Trust us, we LOVE a good competition! But we see that IBM picking up their toys and going home on this one, unless there's something really big coming, like XiV/Nextra.

Now, that being said, IBM does an excellent job of selling / bundling / moving whatever they've got in their price book, so I'm not arguing "best year ever", even though IBM doesn't provide y/y figures or anything like that.

Lots of people buy storage at the same time they buy everything else, and that plays well in IBM's favor. Every EMC storage product has to be sold largely on its own standalone merits. I'd be curious how much DS8000 (or any IBM storage for that matter) gets sold "off base", e.g. outside the context of a larger IBM integrated deal.

To be honest, the Symm folks are watching HDS much closer than IBM these days ...

CKD is always a problem, and alway probably will be. It'd be nice to see an open, standard and well-supported storage interface architecture in zOS and iSeries, but I don't think that's in the cards.

Oh well.

Happy New Year, Barry!

Christo Heuer

Excellent points there Barry!

Coming from a largly IBM mainframe base (MVS/OS390 and zOS), and then moving into the server arena - with EMC/IBM/HDS equipment - SVC's included, it is very true that IBM mostly gets their storage deals done via the z/OS picture.I really only see HDS/EMC as players currently - (Although my son will vehemently argue with me on this - but then he does work for Big Blue ...).

It will be very interesting to see what they come up with, and where/how they position the XIV. Might be another RVA story - only the next 12 months or so will tell...

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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