Sun to update Solaris with ZFS, Apple may follow

Apple Computer is reported to be exploring the possibility of porting the open-source version of the Solaris ZFS file system into its OS X operating system

Sun Microsystems is set to unveil Tuesday an update to its Solaris 10 operating system that includes its next-generation Zettabyte file system (ZFS) and extends self-healing capabilities for its systems based on Advanced Micro Devices Opteron processors.

Sun says Solaris ZFS helps ease manageability for storage administrators and improves data integrity. The 128-bit file system allows thousands of file systems to draw from a common storage pool, with each one taking up only as much space as needed, while the combined I/O bandwidth of all the devices in the storage pool is available to all file systems at all times, according to the OpenSolaris Community, which develops the open-source version of Solaris.

"ZFS collapses volume management into the file system itself so it increases ease-of-use for configuring file systems," said Tony Iams, an analyst with Ideas International Inc., in Rye Brook, New York.

Apple Computer is reported to be exploring the possibility of porting the open-source version of the Solaris ZFS file system into its OS X operating system, according to a posting by Sun's Eric Kustarz on an OpenSolaris mailing list.

"Chris Emura, the Filesystem Development Manager within Apple's CoreOS organization is interested in porting ZFS to OS X," said Kustarz, in his post.

Apple officials would not comment, but industry analysts said the move could make sense for the company.

"It's not out of the question, now that Apple is now on Unix and ZFS is now open source," Iams said. "The benefit of ZFS tends to be more visible in the short term on servers, but it is designed in theory to give you new ways to reference data so you could conceivably develop innovative ways to do searching. A visionary like Apple could develop some innovative interfaces to accessing data."

With Sun's upcoming update to Solaris, it is also extending its predictive self-healing capabilities for detecting and responding to hardware failures. Sun will now offer these capabilities, previously only available for its Sparc systems, for its Opteron-based systems.

In future updates to Solaris, the company plans to add among other features support for Xen-based virtualization and more security features from its Trusted Solaris OS, which is geared for governmental agencies that require a certain level of security certification.

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