What Are The Benefits Of The ZFS High Availability Cluster Software?

Largely recognized as "the last file system you'll ever need", Highly Scalable ZFS storage technology has made serious inroads into the storage arena, disrupting and displacing traditional storage systems. With many innovative and unique features when first released by Sun Microsystems, ZFS is now becoming the file system of choice in many Open Storage enterprise deployments.

In particular, an acceleration of development of ZFS on Linux in recent years has seen significant take-up with ZFS on Linux platforms for enterprise storage deployments over traditional and alternative Linux filesystems.

This section briefly describes why the enterprise should consider ZFS for their storage needs, and how High-Availability.com has integrated it's High Availability Cluster product, RSF-1 with ZFS to provide an enterprise-grade ZFS High Availability product, RSF-1 for ZFS.

What is the ZFS File System?

ZFS, and its open-source sibling, OpenZFS, is an advanced storage platform that combines a filesystem with a logical volume manager incorporating built-in advanced enterprise features such as data protection, replication, deduplication, compression and unlimited snapshots. It is inherently massively scalable allowing for individual file sizes of up to 16 Exabytes and up to 256 Quadrillion Zettabytes of total storage capability. Some of its key advanced features include storage pooling, RAID-Z, copy-on-write, end-to-end data integrity verification and automatic repair.

Diagram showing the layout of pooled storage on ZFS

ZFS is a transactional self-healing 128-bit file system that supports almost unlimited storage capacity. One of it's unique features is that is calculates checksums of all data and meta data allowing it to identify and self-repair data corruption.

Combining what have been traditionally separate storage components: data management, storage and device management, virtualized volumes and file system management into one, ZFS does not require hardware RAID controllers or battery backed NVRAM to ensure data integrity in the event of physical component failure.

ZFS Enterprise Features & Benefits

  • Self-Healing
  • End-to-end data integrity
  • Infinitely scalable
  • Storage Pooling
  • Combined file system and volume manager
  • RAID-Z
  • Replication
  • Deduplication
  • Compression
  • Unlimited snapshots

A Brief History of ZFS cluster software

Designed to overcome the limitations of general-purpose file systems, ZFS was originally conceived and created by Sun Microsystems in 2001 for their proprietary Solaris platform. In 2005, the source was released in the open-sourced OpenSolaris platform shortly before Sun's acquisition by Oracle. Since then, Oracle placed ZFS development back under closed source license on their Solaris platform and they continue to develop their own proprietary ZFS based storage appliances.

Since 2005 however, growing open-source communities have ported and improved ZFS on other Unix platforms including the OpenSolaris derived illumos, OpenIndiana and OmniOS operating systems, Linux, Mac OSX and FreeBSD. Since 2013, ongoing ZFS development and releases have been coordinated by OpenZFS, an umbrella organisation whose team comprises of individuals and companies that use, improve and promote the ZFS file system, including many commercial organisations that embed ZFS in their own products.