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[Discuss] Home NAS redux

Tom Metro wrote:
> The "holy grail" for a home storage server is one in which you can
> largely treat as an appliance, and easily stick new disks into it to
> expand storage, without compromising (long term) performance and
> reliability, and without having to manually "grow" file systems, or
> worse, backup and rebuild the file system.

I happened to just hear mention of Windows 8 Storage Spaces on an old PC
hardware podcast, and it sounds like it has many of the characteristics
I listed above.

  With Storage Spaces, physical disks are grouped together into pools,
  and pools are then carved up into spaces, which are formatted with a
  regular filesystem and are used day-to-day just like regular disks.

  Unlike RAID systems of old, but in common with other modern storage
  technologies such as Solaris' ZFS and Linux's btrfs, pools can use
  disks of different interface technologies--USB, SATA, Serial Attached
  SCSI--and different, mismatched sizes. New disks can be added to a
  pool at any time. Pools can also include one or more hot spares:
  drives allocated to a pool but kept in standby until another disk in
  the pool fails, at which point they spring into life.

That sounds no better than ZFS. You couldn't, for example, just stick a
drive into a spare slot and have it automatically be used and the file
system grown.

  Spaces can be thinly provisioned, allowing the creation of spaces that
  are larger than the underlying pool. This allows potentially simpler
  management--a large "media" space for TV shows and movies could be
  created with some large size, say 50 TB, with only 2 TB of physical
  capacity in the pool. As more shows are recorded or downloaded, and
  space becomes tighter, additional drives can be added to the pool; the
  space will then use this extra capacity with no further configuration

OK, that sounds useful. Can ZFS do that?

On the other hand, ideally you shouldn't even need to predeclare the
size. It just should be far easier to grow it.

The article concludes with:

  If the feature does indeed ship in desktop Windows, it will overnight
  obsolete a range of SOHO-oriented storage systems; products like Drobo
  and ReadyNAS will find it hard to survive in a Windows 8 world.


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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