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ZFS is a future proof file system - and also a logical volume manager - which gives us:

  • Fast file system creation: The creation and startup of additional zones (“SmartMachines” in Joyent terminology) – in other words, adding new paying customers — is nearly instantaneous.
  • Data integrity is guaranteed, with particular emphasis on preventing silent data corruption.
  • Storage pools: “virtualized storage” makes administrative tasks and scaling far easier. To expand storage capacity, all you need to do is add new disks (hard disks, flash memory, and whatever may come along in the future) to a zpool.
  • Snapshots: ZFS’ copy-on-write transactional model makes it possible to capture a snapshot of an entire file system at any time, storing only the differences between that and the working file system as it continues to change. This creates a backup point that the administrator can easily roll back to.
  • Clones: Snapshots of volumes and filesystems can be cloned, creating an identical copy. Cloning is nearly instantaneous and initially consumes no additional disk space. This facilitates the rapid creation of new, nearly identical, VMs.
  • The ARC (Adaptive Replacement Cache) improves file system and disk performance, driving down overall system latency.

Active development of open source ZFS implementation is being done through Open ZFS project.

Getting Started with ZFS

All documentation stored on OpenSolaris project is now gone. OpenZFS documentation can be looked up from:

Documentation section of OpenZFS Project web page.

ZFS chapter from FreeBSD Handbook

ZFS chapter of OpenIndiana Handbook (work in progress)