Thursday 19 January 2012

Windows 8 - A New Filesystem is born - ReFS

Microsoft has recently announced that Windows 8 Server and then Windows 8 (desktop?) will support a new file system called ReFS or Resilient File System. This will be the first low-level update of the desktop and server platform file systems for just over 10 years with the introduction of NTFS (New Technology File System) in 2000.

Some of the key benefits of this new FileSystem will include;
  • Maintain a high degree of compatibility with a subset of NTFS features that are widely adopted while deprecating others that provide limited value at the cost of system complexity and footprint.
  • Verify and auto-correct data. 
  • Optimize for extreme scale. 
  • Never take the file system offline.
  • Provide a full end-to-end resiliency architecture when used in conjunction with the Storage Spaces feature, 
Some great ideas and once again,  Microsoft has a strong focus on backward compatibility, and so compatibility deserves a space at the top of the new system's feature list.

You can read more about this new filesystem in the reference linked below, but I thought it was key to highlight some of the features that will not be supported by ReFS;
  • Named streams
  • Object IDs,
  • Short names
  • Compression
  • File level encryption (EFS)
  • User Data Transactions
  • Hard-linking, 
  • Extended attributes, and quotas
I am sure as we learn more about these new filesystems and storage service offerings from Microsoft, we find to what extend deprecating these features and functionality will impact users and developers. To address some of these compatibility concerns Microsoft has offered an architectural diagram of how applications and services will operate with the ReFS compatibility layer.

Could the next compatibility challenge be related to how applications work with the underlying filesystem? I wonder how some virtualization vendors will be affected with their filesystem redirectors and virtual drivers. 


Building Windows 8

Check out Mary Jo Foley's view on this topic here:

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