Apple may have given up on the idea of building Sun Microsystems' ZFS file system into Mac OS X, but one of its engineers has picked up where Apple left off.
Don Brady, a former Apple engineer and current ZFS enthusiast, now is leading a small team at start-up Ten's Complement that's been commercializing the software since its 2010 founding. They have released their first product, the $19.95 Zevo Silver Edition, the first version of a product formerly called Z410.
ZFS was a spotlight feature of the Solaris operating system, which Sun released as open-source software and which Oracle took over after acquiring the server maker. ZFS features include the ability to manage vast amounts of data (it originally stood for Zettabyte File System), high reliability, easy administration when it's time to allocate more or less storage to particular computers or tasks, and "pools" to accommodate multiple storage devices without troubling users with details.
Zevo Silver Edition doesn't include everything in ZFS, but the sales pitch should sound familiar: "The technology used in Zevo was designed from the ground up to address today's storage concerns. The new design throws away obsolete assumptions. Fundamental features like data integrity and scalability are built in, not bolted on," the company's Web site said. "Z?evo's Checkups provide efficient validation of all your valuable data. Even single-bit errors can be detected anywhere in a file. This is a huge improvement over traditional repair utilities that can only patch up the system data, but are not concerned with your file contents and require taking your data offline for extended periods."
Apple had been poised to include ZFS in Leopard, a move that excited Sun Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz, but Apple ditched the plans for undisclosed reasons. At the time, Sun and storage competitor NetApp launched dueling patent infringement suits concerning ZFS, though the two dropped the suits without prejudice in 2010 after Oracle bought Sun.
Ten's Complement's forthcoming Zevo Gold Edition will add snapshots to roll back files to an earlier state and mirroring for data protection. The Platinum Edition will come with RAIDZ, a relative of the RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks) technology widely used today to proetect against hard drive failure, and a graphical managment console. The Developer Edition adds command-line tools and lots of fine-tuning options.
The Gold and Developer editions are scheduled to go on sale in early 2012. The Platinum Edition is scheduled for this spring, according to Ten's Complement's FAQ.
The company said it's not yet possible to boot from a Zevo drive, but that it's working on the technology. Also, don't expect a toll-free support line--customers needing help can use the company's forums, knowledge base, and bug-reporting system.