Thursday, October 25, 2007

ZFS: disuptive technology?

Many years ago I thought that CORBA was a disruptive technology that would change the world for distributed systems. I sort-of guessed wrong - in retrospect I explain my poor prediction on the relatively high cost of early CORBA software. CORBA became 'free' too late.

I also think that ZFS (a new "file system" - yet so much more than a file system) also could be a disruptive technology that changes the world for storing and retrieving information, supporting: multiple levels of data protection, a transactional model for committing changes, on the fly expandability, etc. As open source software, wide and free availability is not a problem with ZFS, or at least should not be when ZFS is available for OpenBSD, FreeBSD, Linux, OS X, etc.

That said, I think that ZFS is more of a platform than a 'file system'. That is, I think that developers with specific data storage and retrieval problems (e.g., large scale graphs, databases, permanent record archival, etc.) will look to ZFS as a possible bottom data layer instead of file systems on the low end or relational databases on the high end.

As ZFS storage pools grow to span multiple (file) servers, we can start thinking in terms of using distributed data queries and accumulating results (a little like using map reduce operations on GFS). ZFS seems like such a wide open platform that I expect that we will all be surprised at future novel applications layered on top of ZFS.

4 comments:

Exospaca said...

ZFS will never exist on OpenBSD the way things are going, since the CDDL is a disgusting licence that noone in OpenBSDland would ever use. But beyond that, nobody likes dealing with codebases that Sun has any control over, just look at how poorly Java and OpenOffice are managed. And even more, ZFS isn't a particularly desirable filesystem to use.

A.A.A said...

Exospaca: CDDL is equivalen of MPL, so ou throw crap to Mozilla too then. your comment about ZFS or Sun's open source policy are somewhat clueless.

Exospaca said...

I am afraid you're hard of reading, or perhaps lack any understanding of the situation, doesn't really matter which.

Firefox isn't going into OpenBSD's base system either. The MPL is a disgusting licence too, as is the GPL. The CDDL is one of the worst licences possible for free software, and not the equal of the MPL, it is worse. Read what these licences say some time.

You seriously need to investigate the functionality and scope of what ZFS is, it's not a particularly good filesystem. There is no major compelling reason to make use of it when contrasted against other systems.

And until you've tried to work with or contribute to the codebases of Java or OpenOffice, you can just sit on it and rotate, Sun's control of both have been a significant barrier to making them functional tools.

Mark Watson, author and consultant said...

Hello Exospaca and A.A.A.,

Your arguing about open source licenses is a good example of what I like about open source: lots of variety and competing projects -- very different from commercial software where Microsoft basically rules all (yes, I am typing this on a MacBook :-)

I actually like fragmentation in open source space. It is a big world, and open source will continue to grow rapidly, especially I think in developing countries.

I code using LGPL and GPL licenses, but I also build my consulting business using Apache and Ruby licensed software, and with *BSD/MIT software also.

Different centers of development based around different licensing systems is a good thing, keeping development fresh.

re: ZFS: really more than a file system; not something that I plan on running on my laptop.