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Sharing data and storage space in a distributed system remains a difficult task for ordinary users, who are constrained to the fixed abstractions and resources provided by administrators. To remedy this situation, we introduce the concept of a tactical storage system (TSS) that separates storage abstractions from storage resources, leaving users free to create, reconfigure, and destroy abstractions as their needs change. In this paper, we describe how a TSS can provide a variety of filesystem and database abstractions for unmodified applications without requiring special privileges or kernel changes. A TSS provides performance competitive with NFS for single clients and also scales well for multiple servers and multiple clients. A prototype TSS of 120 disks and 6 TB of storage has been deployed at the University of Notre Dame and used for applications in high energy physics and bioinformatics.
Date of Conference: 12-18 Nov. 2005