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Designing a self-maintaining storage system

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3 Author(s)
Asami, S. ; Comput. Sci. Div., California Univ., Berkeley, CA, USA ; Talagala, N. ; Patterson, D.A.

This paper shows the suitability of a “self-maintaining” approach to Tertiary Disk, a large-scale disk array system built from commodity components. Instead of incurring the cost of custom hardware, we attempt to solve various problems by design and software. We have built a cluster of storage nodes connected by switched Ethernet. Each storage node is a PC hosting a few dozen SCSI disks, running the FreeBSD operating system. The system is used as a web-based image server for the Zoom Project in cooperation with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco ( We are designing a self-maintenance extension to the OS to run on this cluster to mitigate the system administrator's burden. There are several components required for building a self-maintaining system. One is decoupling the time of failure from the time of hardware replacement. This implies the system must have some amount of redundancy, and has no single point of failure. Our system is fully redundant, and everything is constructed to avoid a single point of failure. Another is correctly identifying failures and their dependencies. The paper also outlines several approaches to lower the human cost of system administration of such a system and making the system as autonomous as possible

Published in:

Mass Storage Systems, 1999. 16th IEEE Symposium on

Date of Conference: