More than a year ago, Sun unleashed the idea of the Zettabyte File System (ZFS), and customers paid attention. A high-performance 128-bit file system that prevents data corruption and stretches across tons of systems? Sure. Why not.
Customers, however, have become concerned in recent months that ZFS was no more. Sun officials said relatively little about the product, and it didn't appear in Solaris 10 updates. So, a number of you wrote to us asking for an update on the software. Here it is.
Our phone taps at Sun have turned up some key ZFS information. First off, the software made it into the next version of Solaris's code base just this week. ZFS will stand as another feature in Solaris 11 or whatever Sun plans to call the next major version of its operating system.
In the meantime, customers will be able to grab ZFS from the Solaris Express program in two weeks time. It's reasonably safe to assume that an OpenSolaris launch will follow.
So what does ZFS do?
Well, the software has been in development since July of 2001 and fits broadly into the virtualization technology category. Administrators can use ZFS to spread a common file system across numerous storage boxes, getting rid of volume and partitioning management and ending the need to grow and shrink individual file systems for certain applications. ZFS also has sophisticated checks for preventing data corruption, ways to improve I/O performance and of course 128-bit support. More technical information is available here.
A number of storage companies, both large and small, have extensive file system work going on in the efforts to deliver a "pool" of boxes to customers. Many, in fact, already claim to have solved this problem, as you can see here.
Just how well ZFS stacks up against these other products remains to be seen.
In its favor, however, is Sun's growing storage business. In the past, the company has struggled to find much interest for its storage gear. But, following the StorageTek acquisition, Sun now has one of the larger tape and disk businesses. This should let Sun make the ZFS pitch to plenty of large customers.
There's more information from Mr. ZFS available here.®