Apple may have begun testing what appears to be ZFS (Zettabyte File System) support in the latest iOS 5.1 beta. If the information received by iMore is accurate. references to ZFS, including the mounting tools, are contained deep inside the system files. This raises a lot of questions about where Apple may be taking iOS storage in the future.
If you're not familiar with ZFS, here's Wikipedia's introduction:
ZFS is a combined file system and logical volume manager designed by Sun Microsystems. The features of ZFS include data integrity verification against data corruption modes, support for high storage capacities, integration of the concepts of filesystem and volume management, snapshots and copy-on-write clones, continuous integrity checking and automatic repair, RAID-Z and native NFSv4 ACLs. ZFS is implemented as open-source software, licensed under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL).
In other words, it's highly scalable and highly resilient, something you want in cloud environments. ZFS support was included in some earlier versions of Mac OS X, but was not included in the final, shipping version. Rumor has it Apple wasn't pleased when Sun spoke openly about Apple's adoption of their technology, leading Apple to pull the plug. Whether that's accurate or whether Apple simply determined it was going to go another way with OS X storage is unknown.
Even without official Apple support, we've seen OS X ZFS ports crop up since then. What sets this iOS implementation apart from some of the very original, official, OS X ports of ZFS is that it already contains the ZFS utilities (zpool, zdump, etc). By having the utilities already installed it means that the port is in a more complete stage of development and has full read + write access (unlike the original OS X ports).
So here's the question again, if this information is accurate, why is Apple looking to include ZFS in iOS? Could it be part of a greater plan to integrate better cloud services into future versions of the iPhone and iPad?