Research Library

IBM XIV – Product Brief

Last updated December 28th, 2018 for annual review and updates. Concise and unbiased 4-page overview of the features and functionality of IBM XIV. Product Brief includes EvaluScale Reviewing Methodology. Download the free Product Brief now!


The IBM XIV Storage System is an enterprise storage system targeted for usage in open systems environments as a block storage system with either SAN or direct attachment.  The XIV is based on a grid of standard servers with storage directly attached and executing the XIV system software to provide a scalable, high-performance storage solution.

IBM Spectrum Accelerate is the XIV software that can be installed on Virtual Machines.  Accelerate is expected to be used in private and public cloud deployments with commodity servers and storage.  All XIV software features are included in Accelerate.

The XIV Storage System uses nodes of Intel-based server boards and captive disk storage with Ethernet switching for interconnect to provide a grid-based storage system.  The nodes are identical from storage and processing capability but some nodes may have additional host bus adapters installed providing the external interfaces for attachment to a SAN or direct to servers.  The nodes are called Data Modules (DM) and contain up to 12 NL-SAS disks that are 7,200 RPM.  An XIV system can have up to 15 Data Modules (nodes).  The interconnection between the Data Modules is accomplished with dual InfiniBand switches to provide redundancy.  The redundant switches are 20Gb/s and are integrated in the cabinet with the Data Modules.  Because every node is a Data Module, any to any connectivity is required.  UPS’s are incorporated into the XIV to provide both availability and data integrity.  Redundant N+1 UPS’s are supplied as part of the system.

IBM Hyper-Scale manages multiple XIV systems as a single system and enables transparent migration of volumes between systems. Up to 144 systems or 144 VMs for accelerate can be managed.

In May of 2015 IBM added Real-Time Compression support for the XIV – Gen 3 or later systems.  The RTC is implemented in software using processor cores of the XIV controllers unlike the SVC and Storwize systems, which have an add-in compression card for acceleration.  IBM guarantees a 5:1 data reduction with the XIV.


The IBM XIV is targeted as a general purpose block storage system for usage in environments where scaling of capacity and performance is required up to the maximum capacity of 180 disk drives can support.  IBM has established markets in communications, manufacturing, government, and financial customers.  The XIV with its easy to use GUI fits in customers where IT generalists manage storage.  Contradictory to that is that IBM positions the XIV as a high end enterprise system where enterprises typically have storage specialists.

  • Characteristics
    • Performance – The system has the capability to scale performance very large with the number of nodes, the aggregate amount of cache and the overall bandwidth.
    • Availability – As a scale out system with up to 15 nodes, the system is inherently a high availability system.
    • Replication for BC/DR – Remote mirroring, both synchronous and asynchronous, is supported along with consistency groups.
    • 12TB of SSD read cache.
    • Notable – The system uses InfiniBand for interconnection between nodes in the grid.
    • Encrypting drive support
    • Real-time compression implemented in software.
  • Applications
    • The XIV is targeted at any block storage application including databases. As a general purpose storage system, most applications can use the XIV.
  • System environments
    • The XIV has been integrated with VMware Site Recovery Manager and has support for VAAI.
    • XIV also has the ability to be monitored and managed by the Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007 with the installation of the IBM Storage Management pack software.
  • Deployment and Administration
    • The XIV has an intuitive GUI that would allow it to be installed by a customer with moderate storage skills. .
    • The management is integrated into IBM management products (Tivoli) but can also be completely managed from the XIV GUI.
    • Capacity on Demand support for reducing initial purchase costs.
    • Mobile application for management.

Evaluator Group EvaluScale: XIV – SAN Storage

Evaluator Group product review methodology “EvaluScale” assesses each product within a specific technology area.  The definitions of the criteria and explanations of how products are reviewed can be found in the  Evaluator Series Evaluation Guide. Download the product brief now to view the Evaluscale for this product.

Evaluator Group Opinion: Differentiating elements for IBM XIV

The IBM XIV has largely been replaced with the IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R.  The product brief for the A9000 should be consulted for the current product offering and capabilities.

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