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.