5th Tech Demo @ UNIMELB: Solaris ZFS -- The Best File System on the planet

On 8th May 2008 I hosted the fifth Sun Campus Ambassador demo titled "Solaris ZFS: The Best File System on the planet" at University of Melbourne. I was honored to have Sun System Engineer Nathan Kroenert and Sun Victoria Education & Research Industry Manager Nicholas (Nick) Griffith to join me in this seminar. The whole demo lasted about 60 minutes. 22 students and staff sent me their RSVP and 69 people eventually attended seminar. It was a great timing of having Solaris ZFS talk as OpenSolaris 200805 was released only two days ago. I manually burned 20 copies of OpenSolaris LiveCD and brought to the seminar. So the audience could take one to try out ZFS right after this seminar. Appearently many people found ZFS a very attractive topic. The theater was nearly full when the seminar began.

Firstly Nathan and I jointly presented ZFS tech talk.

We mostly reused Bill Moore's ZFS presentation at Sun ZFS learning center. We focused on the explanation of why ZFS was designed from scratch and brought revolution into storage industry. We retrospected the last 20 years development of IT industry and review what had changed. It turned out that, CPU was 1000 times faster, memory about 100 times and disks about 10 times. So relatively speaking, nowadays CPU is 100 times faster than relative to disks. As a result, what was considered completely intunable in 20 years ago became an obsolete assumption. We could spend a very percentage of CPU time to ensure the whole data integrity in a storage pool. We were also able to have more advanced pool storage mechanism than traditional volume management, which significantly ease administration effort. More detail explanation could be found at Bill's recorded talks.


I must applause Nathan for his exceptional knowledge and extensive experience in Solaris and ZFS. While I mostly repeated what I learned from previous Campus Ambassador training, Nathan added much insightful explanation and interesting examples. As the seminar went on, I learned a lot from Nathan's talk. Many "uh-huh" kept popping up from my mind.

Because we were delayed by setting up projector, we were behind our schedule. So we were a bit short of time after we passed along half of the slides. In order to cover the seminar content, which I personally thought it would be beneficial to audience, I asked Nathan to completely take over. It was amazing to see how he could address these technical points in such a concise manner. 

In demo section we used several USB flash drives to create a storage pool. I connected four USB flash drives to a laptop via a USB hub.

Somehow I could see two USBs from "rmformat" result. While I was scratching my head and trying to figure out what went wrong, Nathan used this opportunity to demonstrate how to narrow down and debug the issue in LIVE. It was so cool!!! It turned out that, two USB ports went bad at this VERY moment. We then moved along and demonstrated a number of ZFS administration tasks with rest of USB devices. Although we were not able to show a CSI:Munich clone as I planned, the audience and I had a much more practical lesson. It was such a great pleasure to have a master here.

Lastly we had the long expected IPod draw as the closure of today's seminar. Nick picked the luck audience from the lotter box. Look, how happy the lucky student is.

The discussion continued after we ended the seminar. Many audience just could not miss the opportunity to consult Sun expert.

Thanks for Peng Deng's help! He recorded several short videos in today's seminar.

My opening talks


Nathan added insightful input to my talks.


Nathan passionate talk on his favoriate slide: End-to-End Checksums



Presentation slides: http://blogs.sun.com/tao/resource/CA-Demo/solaris_zfs_v06May.pdf

Lessons learn:

1. Although I did many research on how to connect projector on an OpenSolaris laptop and was able to connect my OpenSolaris box with my LCD screen (Project is fundamentally another external screen, isn't it?), I was not able to have my OpenSolaris windows displayed nicely on the theatre projector today. The resolution of the projector was surprisingly low, only 640x480. I should have tried it before seminar. As Nathan suggested, VESA could automatically cope with many different projectors. I will put together a detail instruction in later blog.

2. Although I practiced live demo for many times, I only assumed that everything would go as I expected and failed to consider "raining" scenario. Fortunately I have Nathan to save my day. I should have considered more thoroughly.


You give me too much credit!! ;)

A great demo / talk and certainly something the crowd got into. It would seem that there is \*still\* a lot of new interest in ZFS!!

Posted by Nathan on May 09, 2008 at 12:43 AM EST #

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