On the storage side, arrays can only use the information they have to deallocate: The data that’s stored on them. They don’t know what application is using it, what file system it is. But, somewhere along the line, someone had a big idea and said, “wait a second, what if we look for pages that are all zeros?” We’ll talk about pages a bit later, but for now, let’s talk about zeros. A zero is kind of a smoke signal coming up from over the hills that says, “there’s nothing valuable here.”
What happens in the telephone game is that a little bit of information gets lost at each step along the path, and at the end of the chain you’ve basically lost all the information. And this happens all the time in computers, especially in data storage. Thin reclamation is the core technical challenge to thin provisioning, and the telephone game is the reason.