Sun's ZFS Creator to Quit Oracle and Join Startup

Jeff Bonwick, known as the father of ZFS, the innovative file system in the Solaris operating system, is leaving Oracle to join a startup.

Another key former Sun Microsystems engineer is leaving Oracle. This time it is Jeff Bonwick, the leader of the team that created ZFS, the file system in the Solaris operating system.

In a Sept. 27 blog post, Bonwick said he will leave Oracle as of Sept. 30 to begin anew at a startup that is currently in stealth mode, so he shed no more light than that on that subject.

ZFS is a combined file system and logical volume manager designed by Sun Microsystems. It is part of the Solaris operating system. ZFS was announced in September of 2004, and source code for ZFS was integrated into the main trunk of Solaris development in October of 2005. The name originally stood for "Zettabyte File System," though it has long been known simply as ZFS.

In his post, Bonwick said:

""I have always enjoyed my work, and still do-everything from MTS-2 to Sun Fellow to Oracle VP. I love the people I work with and the technology we've created together, which is why I've been doing it for so long. But I have always wanted to try doing a startup, and recently identified an opportunity that I just can't resist.""

Since announcing its plans to acquire Sun in April of 2009 and then closing the deal in January, Oracle has witnessed the departure of some notable engineering talent, including James Gosling, Tim Bray, and DTrace co-creators Adam Leventhal and Bryan Cantrill.

Yet Bonwick's tale does not include any dissatisfaction with the Oracle Way, which some other former Sun engineers have mentioned as a factor in their decision to leave the company. Indeed, in an interview with eWEEK, Java creator James Gosling said a key part of his decision to leave Oracle was that his decision-making power over Java had been severely restricted.

However, Bonwick, a former CTO for storage at Sun and known as the father of ZFS, said Oracle stands to take the technology further in the market.

In a portion of his post aimed at the ZFS team, Bonwick said:

""This team will always have a special place in my heart. Being part of the Solaris team means doing the Right Thing, innovating, changing the rules, and being thought leaders-creating the ideas that everyone else wants to copy. Add to that Oracle's unmatched market reach and ability to execute, and you have a combination that I believe will succeed in ways we couldn't have imagined two years ago. I hope that Solaris and ZFS Storage are wildly successful, and that you have fun making it happen.""

Bonwick also thanked the overall ZFS community. "Thank you for being behind us from Day One," he said. "After a decade in the making, ZFS is now an adult. Of course there's always more to do, and from this point forward, I look forward to watching you all do it. There is a great quote whose origin I have never found: 'Your ideas will go further if you don't insist on going with them.' That has proven correct many times in my life, and I am confident that it will prove true again."