Sun executives will use the Network Computing event in Washington on May 2 to announce that the next company-supported version of Solaris 10, due in June, will include bug fixes and new features like ZFS 1.0, the file system that Suns engineers have been working on for a number of years.
Each one of the new components has been put through stringent testing—more than 1,000 tests every day of its development life—to ensure compatibility with previous versions of Solaris, Chris Ratcliffe, the director of Solaris software marketing, told eWEEK in an interview in Santa Clara, Calif.
But users do not have to automatically change all of their file systems to be ZFS, he said.
"You can continue to use ZFS and all your underlying storage and volume management and all that. But ZFS is there, and they can start creating ZFS file systems and storage pools and use it as a fully supported product from Sun," he said.
Most customers will probably have a mixture of the existing UFS (Unix File System), some ZFS and some Veritas File Systems going forward, Ratcliffe said, adding that the root file system will remain UFS for the time being and the operating system will manage all the transportations between them, although he said ZFS could become the default for the next major Solaris release.
"We redesigned this new file system to have a 30-year lifespan, and the goals for ZFS were end-to-end data integrity, far simpler administration and massive data capacity. We have also had customers using ZFS for over two years … you get one shot with a file system, as this is peoples data, and we have gone to great lengths to ensure data consistency and we dont expect to see any issues as customers start to use ZFS," Ratcliffe said.
He said Sun expects system administrators to view this first ZFS release as a 1.0 release and to take their time migrating to it, but once they see the improvements in data integrity and ease of management, "I think they will find it very compelling," he said.
While ZFS has been available with OpenSolaris since last November, Sun does not provide support to those who use that version.
While no one needs 128-bit file systems today, and probably will not any time soon, Ratcliffe said, he argued that at the rate storage is growing it was clear that people would come to need more than 64-bit file systems, and the easiest way to deliver this was by giving them a 128-bit file system.
"We could take all the storage that is currently available on the planet today and put one file system on top of it using ZFS and there would still be room left," he said.
Solaris ZFS 1.0 brings a number of advances on current file systems, according to Ratcliffe, including end-to-end data integrity where a combination of "checksum" and transactional copy-on-write mechanisms are used to make sure that data is correct.
"These are 64-bit checksums and so no hardware is required, no pricy disk arrays or the like, and every piece of data is checked as it is written to and read from the disk. This also opens the door for file system cryptography and encryption at a later stage, which is a future direction for us," Ratcliffe said.
ZFS 1.0 also brings advanced error detection that can identify damaged data and can correct it on the fly. If one side of a mirror is damaged by an accidental overwrite, for example, ZFS can detect, repair and recover with no interruption in service, Ratcliffe said.
Sun is also adding more predictive self-healing functionality to Solaris 10 for AMD platforms, he said, meaning that any supported AMD platform will have full predictive self-healing. "So thats CPU, memory and I/O predictive self-healing, where Solaris 10 will automatically monitor your system and do what it can to mitigate any potential failure," he said.
This feature has only been available on Suns SPARC platform until now. Asked if Sun was going to limit this to the SPARC and Advanced Micro Devices architectures, Ratcliffe said Sun had to know very specific things about the underlying chip architecture to make this feature happen.
"Our relationship with AMD is such that we collaborate on this. We do not have that level of collaboration with any other vendors at this point," he said.
The new version of Solaris 10 will also include the open-source PostgreSQL database, which has been optimized for the operating system and supported by Sun, and a service manifest so that PostgreSQL on Solaris will also be predictively self-healed.
Beyond this release, Suns engineers are working on the Trusted Extensions, an add-on that will give any Solaris 10 platform trusted functionality, which is on track for November. They are also pushing ahead with the BrandZ technology, which lets customers run Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 applications in a container, and will hopefully ship by the end of the year, Ratcliffe said.