Where to now for ZFS?

A note I wrote when asked about the future of ZFS and current best-practices for storage:

“My current line of thinking is that ZFS has the required reliability, OpenSolaris is where it actually works now.

FreeBSD 9 should have a good version of it (they can’t get the zpool up to v23 in FreeBSD 8 based on FreeBSD’s major-version compatibility requirements), and Linux is also going to get it. Either of those two are good destinations. Both are currently flakey though, and OpenSolaris is solid.

The ZFS storage layer has been ported to linux by one of the National Labs – they’re still working on the POSIX layer. I suspect that’ll be ready in a year or so.

I suspect Nexenta will wind up switching kernels itself and still calling itself Nexenta in a year or two. ZFS is endian- and platform agnostic, so moving a pool from one OS to another is a ‘zpool export storage’ on the source OS, re-install the base OS, and ‘zpool import storage’ and you’re good to go.

Linux’s btrfs might even be a decent in 2-3 years, but it’s really really early still.

There’s also the Illumos project which is making an Oracle-free OpenSolaris which stands a chance. Nexenta is funding those guys – at least they’ll finally be able to do a complete Open Source build. That’s probably transitional, though – why compete with FreeBSD on drivers? “Because OpenSolaris is much faster on disk access” is a fair answer, so they could also wind up supporting a more narrow set of hardware on an ongoing basis, until FreeBSD is that fast (they can figure out how OpenSolaris beats them pretty easily, especially with lots of people wanting it to be where they wind up.)

FreeBSD is license-compatible with CDDL, otherwise Linux would be the presumptive destination. Oracle could still chose to dual-license and settle the matter that quickly, but that’s seeming less and less likely. Bill Moore, co-lead on ZFS has already left Oracle and joined the Nexenta board, so I suspect that’s where ZFS will evolve, not at Oracle. If Jeff Bonwick does the same, it’s pretty much settled.”