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What links Apple, Sun's ZFS and a tiny startup? Al Gore

Greenbytes touts ZEVO freebie... But what does this mean for fanbois?

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Blocks and files GreenBytes, the flash array startup which uses ZFS, bought Mac ZFS developer Ten's Complement last week and is now going to make its ZEVO Community Edition ZFS software freely available from 15 September.

CEO Bob Petrocelli said so in a blog yesterday. The product should be enhanced between now and then.

GreenBytes has stripped out ZFS's native deduplication in its Solidarity array product and says it has replaced it with much, much better code. We can expect that dedupe, perhaps, to appear in the ZEVO code.

Petrocelli blogged: "GreenBytes' long-term goal is to merge our storage optimisation technology with ZEVO to create something entirely new. While we wait for the result of that union, we wanted to offer the entire community the most functional storage solution available for OS X."

Don Brady, the Apple engineer who founded Ten's Complement, did so after leaving Apple when it canned its internal ZFS development effort. He is a ZFS evangelist.

Now here's a potential twist which might result in Apple adopting ZFS after all. Recall that Apple, the Steve Jobs-led Apple, dropped ZFS from its development plans after Sun pre-announced Apple was going to adopt its ZFS file system back in June 2007.

Since then, file data growth has continued unabated, file systems have to handle more folders and files, and Apple's HFS+ has a bigger job to do. Oracle then bought Sun, which had a legal spat with NetApp over ZFS. That spat has petered out and ZFS is now open source, with Coraid, Oracle, Nexenta, GreenBytes and others using it.

Steve Jobs. Al Gore. It's all so clear to us...

Jobs has gone. GreenBytes got a slug of VC cash earlier this year from Generation Investment Management (GIM), noteworthy at the time partly because ex-US Vice President Al Gore, the big Greeny information superhighway guy, founded GIM.

Here's the kicker: Al Gore sits on Apple's board. A GIM person will sit on GreenBytes' board. GreenBytes has data reduction technology in its ZFS which it thinks is well-tuned to Apple's needs: driving up the effective capacity of flash and prolonging its endurance, particularly with 2-bit flash and even the 3-bit stuff.

Apple is a flash convert, using the stuff in its IOS devices and MacBook Air notebooks. As far as we know it hasn't got dedupe. So perhaps Apple could adopt ZFS and so get dedupe for flash-based systems needing lots of capacity at a lower cost than the raw, undeduplicated flash storage can provide, and get itself an HFS+ successor – giving GreenBytes a bite of Apple at last. Or maybe that's a bit of a long shot. But still, it made a great headline. ®

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