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zFS - A Scalable Distributed File System using Object Stores

From DSF to zFS and beyond

zFS is a research project aimed at building a decentralized file system that distributes all aspects of file and storage management over a set of cooperating machines interconnected by a high-speed network. zFS is designed to:
  • Scale from a few networked computers to several thousand machines, supporting tens of thousands of clients.
  • Be built from commodity, off-the-shelf components (PCs, object store devices) and a high-speed network, and run on existing operating systems such as Linux.

zFS extends the research done in the DSF project by using an object store as storage media and by using leases and distributed transactions.

The two most prominent features of zFS are its cooperative cache and distributed transactions. zFS integrates the memory of all participating machines into one coherent cache. Thus, instead of going to the disk for a block of data already in one of the machine memories, zFS retrieves the data block from the remote machine. Our experience and results comparing zFS performance to NFS appear in "Improving Performance of Distributed File System Using OSDs and Cooperative Cache".

To maintain file system consistency, zFS uses distributed transactions and leases to implement meta data operations and coordinate shared access to data. zFS achieves its high performance and scalability by avoiding group-communication mechanisms and clustering software.

zFS has six components: a front end (FE), a cooperative cache (CACHE), a file manager (FMGR), a lease manager (LMGR), a transaction manager (TMGR), and an object store (ObS). These components work together to provide applications/users with a distributed file system.

The design of zFS addresses and is influenced by issues of fault tolerance, security, and backup/mirroring. Initially, however, we are focusing on zFS's high-level architecture. In the second phase of the prototype, we plan to address the issues of fault tolerance, mirroring, etc.


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