Sun Unveils Its Next-Generation File System

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-06-01 Print this article Print

The Dynamic File System in Solaris 10 will streamline management, make adding storage simpler, and add features that boost availability—cutting into territory once claimed by partners such as Veritas.

Sun Microsystems Inc. this week is planning to give users of its Solaris operating system a sneak peek at the next version and its new file system.

Among the many new features of Solaris 10, due by years end, is the DFS (Dynamic File System)—a 128-bit system that will automate many common tasks for system administrators.

While the DFS, which will be previewed during Suns Network Computing 04Q2 Webcast, will complement Solaris, some say its development is even more strategic and will buttress Solaris as software partners such as Veritas Software Corp. continue to expand their support for rival operating systems.

As for streamlining development tasks, the DFS reduces the number of separate tasks it takes to create a file system from 28 to five. The time it takes to add mirrored file systems for three users and then add more disk space has been reduced from 40 minutes to 10 seconds, said John Loiacono, executive vice president of software at Sun, in Santa Clara, Calif.

"Solaris 10, with Dynamic File System, will be the only known operating system to provide end-to-end check summing for all data and is the only self-healing, self-managing operating file system technology that provides 16 billion billion times more capacity than current file systems for virtually unlimited scalability," Loiacono said.

The new file system also eliminates many complicated storage administration tasks, as space within the storage pool is dynamically allocated to file systems, Loiacono said. As such, there is no need to statically partition storage into slices, volumes and file systems, he said.

Click here to read how Sun is lowering storage costs. Data consistency is also maintained at all times. If the system is shut down in an unclean manner, upon reboot no recovery is needed to make new file service consistent, he said.

Loiacono said the transition to the new file system will take time. "You dont just transfer all your data overnight and go grab a new file format," he said.

While Sun does not plan to make DFS backward-compatible with previous versions of Solaris, those versions will be able to read and write to the new file system using NFS (Network File System) remote mounts.

NFS is implemented and embedded in most operating systems, including Solaris, and allows users to mount remotely any file system visible on the network. Unix has only one file system, and users can mount another file system on top of it.

"Systems running Solaris releases prior to Solaris 10 will be able to read and write to the Dynamic File System using NFS remote mounts," Loiacono said. "The only way Solaris 8 and Solaris 9 users can take advantage of the Dynamic File System is via NFS."

Next page: Compatibility crucial for customers.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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