Linked by John Finigan on Mon 21st Apr 2008 19:00 UTC
Oracle and SUN When it comes to dealing with storage, Solaris 10 provides admins with more choices than any other operating system. Right out of the box, it offers two filesystems, two volume managers, an iscsi target and initiator, and, naturally, an NFS server. Add a couple of Sun packages and you have volume replication, a cluster filesystem, and a hierarchical storage manager. Trust your data to the still-in-development features found in OpenSolaris, and you can have a fibre channel target and an in-kernel CIFS server, among other things. True, some of these features can be found in any enterprise-ready UNIX OS. But Solaris 10 integrates all of them into one well-tested package. Editor's note: This is the first of our published submissions for the 2008 Article Contest.
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"Ohoh, me three, what are they used for??

Sigh.......... Oh, alright then. It's clear a lot of people haven't done this.

I know this must be very hard for you. Rest assured, there is a place waiting in heaven for you just for attempting to impart your wisdom to us.

For starters:

1. Reliable and supported disk hot swapping, which you just don't get from on board controllers. Swap out a disk and replace it and you'll have no guarantee whatsoever that it will get seen and rebuilt, unless you take down the system.

2. Hardware RAID controllers have a lot of logic to deal with disk problems themselves. With Time Limited Error Recovery disks, or something similar, these problems can be dealt with by the RAID controller very well. With on board desktop hard drives they have a tendency to timeout on disk failures, and this can have some strange effects on any RAID arrays above them. With different hardware, you can't really predict it.

3. Bootable limitations. Since the OS is handling the RAID the OS cannot boot from the RAID array. You need a more complex layout of a RAID array and possibly RAID-1 mirrored boot partitions on software RAID.

4. Hardware RAID usually provides far better support for things like hot spares, and these things can often be changed on-the-fly on a running system.

5. While software RAID allows you to break free from the confines of one hardware controller, a hardware controller will allow you to use a RAID array with a different OS.

Like I've said before, the storage issues are far more hardware related than software related, and the above outweighs any advantages you can list in running ZFS as an alternative.

You have some valid points (1, 3, 4). However, what are "Hardware RAID Controllers"? This is about as useful as talking about "Computers".

If it is not EMC, NetApp, or HDS, it is probably not nearly as good as you think it is. The beauty of ZFS is that it can do a lot of what these high end storage systems can do at a price that is much, much lower. That doesn't mean that it is as good as these systems. But remember that Linux itself would probably never have caught on if proprietary unix gear had been priced accessibly--people were willing to use a system that was inferior in a lot of ways back in 2000 or so, because back then, Sun was selling a 2-way server for $20,000, if I recall.

On the other hand, if the average user or admin, whom you assert doesn't need ZFS, were the determining factor, I suspect that we would be just fine with Windows 98 today. I find it really hard to understand why a guy who is obviously passionate about technology is passionate about the current mediocre solution being good enough.

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