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Protecting against rare event failures in archival systems

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4 Author(s)
Avani Wildani ; Storage Systems Research Center University of California, Santa Cruz ; Thomas J. E. Schwarz ; Ethan L. Miller ; Darrell D. E. Long

Digital archives are growing rapidly, necessitating stronger reliability measures than RAID to avoid data loss from device failure. Mirroring, a popular solution, is too expensive over time. We present a compromise solution that uses multi-level redundancy coding to reduce the probability of data loss from multiple simultaneous device failures. This approach handles small-scale failures of one or two devices efficiently while still allowing the system to survive rare-event, larger-scale failures of four or more devices. In our approach, each disk is split into a set of fixed size disklets which are used to construct reliability stripes. To protect against rare event failures, reliability stripes are grouped into larger super-groups, each of which has a corresponding super-parity; super-parity is only used to recover data when disk failures overwhelm the redundancy in a single reliability stripe. Super-parity can be stored on a variety of devices such as NV-RAM and always-on disks to offset write bottlenecks while still keeping the number of active devices low. Our calculations of failure probabilities show that adding super-parity allows our system to absorb many more disk failures without data loss. Through discrete event simulation, we found that adding super-groups has a significant impact on mean time to data loss and that rebuilds are slow but not unmanageable. Finally, we showed that robustness against rare events can be achieved for a fraction of total system cost.

Published in:

2009 IEEE International Symposium on Modeling, Analysis & Simulation of Computer and Telecommunication Systems

Date of Conference:

21-23 Sept. 2009