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An Architecture for Scalable and Manageable File Services

Karamanolis, C.; Liu, L.; Mahalingam, M.; Muntz, D.; Zhang, Z.


Keyword(s): distributed file service; namespace; resource aggregation; manageability

Abstract: Monolithic file servers are limited by the power of an individual system. Cluster file servers are limited by resource sharing and recovery issues as the number of cluster nodes increases. DiFFS is a file service architecture that allows system resources to be added (or removed) dynamically, e.g., storage and processors. Resources are partitioned in such a way that contention is avoided, while maintaining a single namespace. Resources may be heterogeneous, and geographically dispersed. This architecture has several advantages. A file's physical location is decoupled from its location in the namespace. This decoupling enables a powerful and flexible mechanism for the placement of file system objects. For example, different types of files, e.g., text or video, may reside anywhere in the namespace while being hosted by servers best suited to handling their content type. DiFFS also provides lightweight protocols for online dynamic reconfiguration (volume reassignment and object migration) to address fluctuating demand and potentially mobile file system entities. A DiFFS prototype has been implemented in Linux. Performance results indicate that the architecture achieves its flexibility and scalability goals without sacrificing performance.

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