Surendra Verma, a development manager on Microsoft’s storage and file system team, said ReFS will maintain “a high degree of compatibility with a subset of NTFS features that are widely adopted while deprecating others”.
Mr. Verma went on to state that ReFS will incorporate some of the codebase from NTFS, albeit with a newly architected engine that implements on-disk structures like the Master File Table to represent files and directories.
This new file system will compete directly against Sun/Oracle’s ZFS, which promises similar resilience through use of storage pools.
In an MSDN blog post announcing the new file system, Steven Sinofsky, the President of Microsoft’s Windows Division, explained that ReFS was developed with some key goals in mind: maintain a high degree of compatibility with NTFS; verification and auto correction of all data; optimization of extreme-scale systems; end to end resiliency architecture with the storage spaces feature; data striping for performance and redundancy for fault tolerance.
ReFS has largely been billed as the ‘killer app’ of the server iteration of the operating system as file system’s promised resilience should be able to fend off ‘bit-rot’ — an ever-present fear of enterprise users.
Microsoft’s last attempt at a file system, the ill-fated WinFS, was ditched during Windows Vista’s protracted development cycle. With the WinFS project cancelled, end-users have been stuck using FAT32, and its sucsessor NTFS, for nearly two decades.
Mr. Verma, however, outlined a possible roadmap where end-users might have a refresh of their file system saying, “We will implement ReFS in a staged evolution of the feature: first as a storage system for Windows Server, then as storage for clients, and then ultimately as a boot volume.”