The convoluted path of OS X ZFS is taking another turn. Greenbytes, who bought Zevo from Tens Complement, will be transitioning the Mac ZFS product – Zevo – out of their company sometime this summer.

That’s the question. Can Zevo be part of a reasonable business model?

File systems aren’t robust businesses. Few users understand why they might want a better one and fewer are willing to spend money for one. Even one as advanced – especially compared to HFS+ – as ZFS.

Apple, of course, would be the best and most logical home for MaccZFS. But unless Jony Ive takes a sudden interest in Mac data integrity, that’s unlikely.

Five years ago they were hot to do it, but since then interest has been nil, despite Microsoft’s impressive investments in ReFS. Microsoft has an enterprise business to worry about. Apple doesn’t.

Who else might build ZFS into a competitive advantage?

  • VMware or Parallels. These produce solid Mac virtualization products with not a lot of differentiation. Zevo would be a brag-worthy option for either.
  • WD or Seagate. Other than Drobo, there’s not a lot of differentiation among SOHO arrays. With fast-growing external storage businesses, either WD or Seagate could corner Mac pros/prosumers, who have good reasons to care about data integrity. Since most over $1k PCs are Macs, that’s a real market that Apple has no interest in.

If no one steps forward, Greenbytes will likely open-source Zevo and was their hands of it. That’s the least good option.

The StorageMojo take
Greenbytes has a growing VDI business to focus on, and Zevo doesn’t fit that. While pleased to see them take Zevo on, it was never clear how it would advance their business.

Nonetheless, they invested in the product, producing a free community edition, and they’ve left it better than they found it. Can’t fault them for trying.

Greenbytes welcomes contact from interested parties.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Rumor has it that engineering turnover in the OS X team is increasing. I wonder why?