ZFS (previously zettabyte file system) was started by Jeff Bonwich and Matt Ahrens in July 2001 while working at Sun Microsystems. By October 2001, they had a working prototype consisting of an object store that could do reads and writes. Thereafter, they added team members and created a POXIS (IEEE standard for Linux OS compatibility) layer and additional features.

Fortunately, ZFS was open source before Oracle acquired Sun. Once it was in the public domain, various derivatives were developed. The latest project encompassing the ZFS derivatives is called OpenZFS. Today, there are two ZFS products, Oracle ZFS and OpenZFS. Oracle made the Sun owned ZFS proprietary after the acquisition. When we describe ZFS in this section, we’re referring to the OSS product. Here is the ZFS timeline.

  • July 2001: ZFS project started
  • October 2001: First prototype was built
  • October 2002: First kernel mount
  • October 2005: integrated into Solaris operating system
  • Oct 2005: Source code was released under OpenSolaris
  • June 2006: Released into the mainstream Solaris operating system
  • April 2009: Oracle acquires Sun Microsystems and makes ZFS proprietary
  • Oct 2013: OpenZFS project started

Although ZFS started off as a file system that incorporated a volume manager,  it’s much more than that. It’s an enterprise storage stack that is feature-rich. During a presentation, one of the ZFS co-founders listed four guiding principals of the project.

  • Pooled Storage
  • Transactional object system: Always consistent on disk
  • End-to-end data integrity: Detects/corrects silent data corruption
  • Simple administration
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