IBM is buying an Israel-based storage company, XIV, for its grid-like storage product design, signalling Big Blue's interest in Web 2.0 storage technology.

The system with its NEXTRA architecture can scale up quickly and hugely, and self-tunes its performance as well as correcting data storage errors. The company said that this made management of Web 2.0 applications much easier. Changing or upgrading storage systems disruptively can cause significant data access and capture problems can adversely impact business growth when every piece of data and every second of uptime is vital.

Such applications can store petabytes of data, feature extremely rapid data growth, and very high access rates. These applications have been associated with the term 'cloud computing'.

Andy Monshaw, general manager for IBM system storage, said: "The acquisition of XIV will ... put IBM in the best position to address emerging storage opportunities like Web 2.0 applications, digital archives and digital media. The ability for almost anyone to create digital content at any time has accelerated the need for a whole new way of applying infrastructure solutions to the new world of digital information."

He said IBM's goal is to: "address these new realities IT customers face."

XIV's chairman, Moshe Yanai, said: "We believe the level of technological innovation achieved by our development team is unparalleled in the storage industry." Being bought by IBM means his company's technology, supported by IBM's global resources, will be able to: "tackle the emerging Web 2.0 technology needs and reach every corner of the world."

Privately-held XIV has been operating for a little over two years and is very private about its affairs. Customers use its products to store in excess of 4PB of data.

Its architecture uses Intel Linux servers, Gigabit Ethernet-linked into a SAN-like scheme, with large amounts of directly-attached serial ATA (SATA) disk storage (DAS) as data storage modules. Users access the data via additional Intel servers, termed interface modules, characterised as dumb routers. Both Fibre Channel and iSCSI protocols are used for data ingest and access.

This use of commodity storage and computing resources is similar to that used in Sun's Thumper and Honeycomb storage products.

NEXTRA features RAID-like protection and thin provisioning plus snapshots of stored data.

The XIV operation will be folded into the System Storage business unit of IBM's Systems and Technology Group. The financial terms have not been disclosed. There is a hint in IBM's release that it may be considering offering storage services using XIV technology.