If you are in the IT field, you have no doubt heard a lot of great things about ZFS, the file system originally introduced by Sun in 2004.  The ZFS file system has features that make it an exciting part of a solid SAN solution.  For example, ZFS can use SSD drives to cache blocks of data.  That ZFS feature is called the L2ARC.  A ZFS file system is built on top of a storage pool made up of multiple devices.  A ZFS file system can be shared through iSCSI, NFS, and CFS/SAMBA. 

We need a lot of reliable storage to host low cost websites at No Support Linux Hosting.  In the past, we have used Promise iSCSI solutions for SAN based storage.  The Promise SAN solutions are reliable, but they tend to run out of disk IO long before they run out of disk space.  As a result, we have been intentionally under-utilizing our current SAN boxes.  We decided to investigate other storage options this year in an effort to improve the performance of our storage without letting costs get completely out of hand.

We decided to spend some time really getting to know OpenSolaris and ZFS.  Our theory was that we could build a custom ZFS based server for roughly the same price as the Promise M610i SAN, and the ZFS based SAN could outperform the M610i at that price point.  If our theory proved right, we would use the ZFS boxes in future deployments.  We also tested the most popular OpenSolaris based storage solution, Nexenta, on the same hardware.  We decided to blog about our findings and progress at ZFSBuild.com, so others could benefit from anything we learned throughout the project.

ZFS Features
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  • vla - Tuesday, October 5, 2010 - link

    Along the lines of the "Opensolaris is kind of dead" threads, I'd really like to see an article like this for BTRFS. It's about to become the standard filesystems for Fedora and Ubuntu in the near future, and I'd love to get some AnandTech depth articles about it.. what it can do, what it can't. How it compares to existing Linux filesystems, how it compares to ZFS, etc.
  • andersenep - Tuesday, October 5, 2010 - link

    When btrfs is ready for production use, let me know. From what I have seen it is still very much experimental. When it's as stable and proven as ZFS, I would love to give it a try. I have severe doubts that Oracle will continue to invest in its development now that it owns ZFS.
  • Khyron320 - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - link

    I have never heard of any caching feature mentioned for BTRFS and it is not mentioned on the wiki anywhere. Is this a planned feature?

  • Sabbathian - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - link

    Only site where you can find articles like these.... thank you guys ... ;)
  • lecaf - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - link


    why not do some extra testing with Windows Storage Server R2 (just released a few days ago)

    I'm sure it would lag behind but it could be interesting to see how much.
  • Mattbreitbach - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - link

    I do not believe that Windows Storage Server is an end-user product. I believe that it is only released to OEM's to ship on their systems. At this time we have no route to obtain Windows Storage Server.
  • lecaf - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - link

    True its OEM only and not public but "evaluation" version is available with Technet and MSDN
    Without a license key you can run it for 180 days (like all new MS OS BTW)

    but you can also try this
    Just a registration and you get the software. (Read license because benchmarking is sometimes prohibited)
  • Sivar - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - link

    BSD supports ZFS as well, and it is far from dead.
    Of course, it's also far from popular.
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - link

    "We decided to spend some time really getting to know OpenSolaris and ZFS."

    OpenSolaris is a dead operating system, killed off by Oracle. Points for testing Nexenta, since they're the ones driving the fork that seems to be the successor to OpenSolaris, but basing your article around a dead-end OS isn't very helpful to your readers...
  • Mattbreitbach - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - link

    When this project was started, OpenSolaris was far from dead. We decided to keep using OpenSolaris to finish the article because a viable alternative wasn't available until three weeks ago. If we were to start this article today, it would be based on OpenIndiana. Some of our preliminary testing of OpenIndiana indicate that it performs even better than OpenSolaris in most tests.

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