Friday, February 3, 2012

ZFS: Apple Enters Storage Arena

ZFS: Apple Enters Storage Arena

File systems have existed nearly as long as computing systems. First, systems used storage based upon tape solution with serial access. Next came random block file access. Various filesystems were created, offering different capabilities, and eventually allowed a disk drive to be divided up into multiple logical slices. Volume managers arrived later on the scene, to aggregate disks below individual filesystems, to make larger capacities. ZFS was created by Sun Microsystems, for the purpose of erasing the distinction of volume manager and file system - to add flexibility that the divided pair could not easily achieve. Apple computers often have the need for massive data storage, but the native filesystem has been lacking - until ZFS became a possibility.

Apple computers are the traditional work horse for graphic design houses. They work with large media such as billboards and books with high resolution photographs... which all take a lot of space. As computers continued to advance, they knew they needed a real filesystem.

In 2007, Apple was originally intending on packaging ZFS into their MacOSX operating system and shipping it with Leopard. This would have fixed a lot of problems experienced in the Macintosh environment, including the long time it takes to re-silver an mirrored set if someone kicked a power cable on a desktop USB drive, and virtually unlimited expansion of a filesystem by merely adding disks.

Along came 2009, Apple dumped ZFS. There was an outcry in the community, looking for a real filesystem under MacOSX, but Apple started looking for a new team to "roll their own" filesystem.

In 2011, Apple still could not develop a modern filesystem, and some of the old people who were porting ZFS to MacOSX decided to form their own startup - with the purpose of porting ZFS to MacOSX.

Enter Ten's Complement LLC

Here it is - 2012... a half-decade later and Apple has been unable to release a modern filesystem. By the way, nearly every other operating system was incapable of that, including AIX, HPUX, Linux, and Windows. Interestingly, the old MacOSX developer finally released ZFS. The limited liability company Ten's Complement is now offers a Single Disk, Multiple Disk, and will offer a De-Duplication option in the near future for MacOSX.

Network Management Connection

With the creation of ZFS, Apple MacOSX has finally made it into the realm of being a very viable platform for server applications. No longer will people need to use MacOSX as a client and buy a SPARC or Intel Solaris platform as a server to gain the benefits of ZFS. Common designers, video publishers, and media collectors can now just add the occasional multi-terabyte hard drive and just keep on building their data collection with limited concern for failure - it will all be protected with parity and old deletions can be easily rolled back.

With the addition of ZFS to MacOSX - expect to see more MacOSX platforms in the small enterprises. The benefits of Solaris with the simplicity of MacOSX will surely be an awesome win for the computer community - which means Network Managers will need to take this into their consideration as they roll out management platforms.

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