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Rumor: Apple Enterprise Products to use ZFS

In the last 12 months, the storage demand at my workplace (a university of 10,000 students) has risen exponentially. The 2.4TB NAS purchased last summer was outstripped by the end of our second semester just a few weeks ago. We'll recover a lot of that space by deep-sixing unused and stale accounts--which we can do every semester--but this does not address the growing problem of long-term storage and archival of data generated by our students, faculty, and staff. Eventually, we'll need to figure out a way to keep some--if not most--of this data indefinitely. The good news is that storage costs continue to decline--one terabyte of data storage is about $1500-$2000 right now. The bad news is that managing these massive amounts of data only continues to get more and more complex.

Microsoft's answer to this problem is WinFS, a new filesystem and storage manager that was to be included in Vista. WinFS would be the solution to some of these storage problems by providing a scalable filesystem built on top of a relational database. WinFS would have allowed for metadata tagging, datastore consolidation and sophisticated backup/restore, notifications, and access rules (ACL's). It's exactly what the Enterprise market needs right now, a sophisticated and stable solution for this growing problem. The problem is that Microsoft has yanked WinFS from Vista and will only be using pieces of it in Vista's Server version. Vista will run on the increasing old and creaky NTFS.

Some industry experts are suggesting that Apple may include the open source ZFS file system/content manager in their upcoming Leopard Server. ZFS was produced at Sun Microsystems about two years ago and was recently integrated into the most recent version of Solaris 10. An employee at Sun has posted to the Mac OS X Server mailing list that Apple may be interested in porting Mac OS X to run on ZFS.

If it's true that Apple may build Leopard Server to run on top of ZFS (instead of HFS+), it would place them in a strong position in the Enterprise market. Apple's X-Serve, X-RAID, and X-SAN are already some of the most affordable enterprise-level storage products on the market. Having a new, fast, scalable, reliable file system and content management system combined with Apple's traditionally easy-to-use admin tools might give Apple a powerful push into the coveted Enterprise storage market.

In the last 12 months, the storage demand at my workplace (a university of 10,000 students) has risen exponentially. The 2.4TB NAS...