[FoRK] Amazon S3 storage service

J. Andrew Rogers < andrew at ceruleansystems.com > on > Tue Mar 14 11:22:41 PST 2006

On Mar 14, 2006, at 10:08 AM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
> This kind of capability stands in stark contrast to the high  
> premium for storage paid for infrastructure based on EMC and other  
> fibre-channel SAN systems.

What people want is a mostly indestructible networked multi-user file  
system that just works.  Ironically, some of the most catastrophic  
file system failures I have seen in the last few years *were* the  
high-dollar EMC storage systems.  The problem in doing this with  
geographically distributed clusters of commodity hardware is  
synchronizing metadata without that becoming the bottleneck  
somewhere.  If one can specify the capabilities required carefully,  
this is usually not a huge issue but tends to require architectural  
matching to the specification.

The big money market that exists for this type of thing right now is  
extremely robust continuity-of-business for geographically  
distributed companies with virtually zero data loss or  
synchronization loss.  Standard transaction theory makes this a PITA,  
but some networks are becoming fast enough that it is becoming  
plausible if the file store architecture is tuned for the network  
parameters/topology.  In fact, one can reliably buffer a huge amount  
of virtual disk I/O "in-flight" on the network in theory in a fashion  
that could be very competitive with massive onsite storage arrays for  
performance, but I do not know of anyone actually exploiting this,  
possibly because it requires more knowledge of the network than one  
would normally expose to software.  This is the particular problem  
space that I have been primarily interested in and have spent time  
researching, in large part because the networks I work on are about  
as well-suited for this application as they could be.

> I can think of a couple applications right away.  It is threatening  
> to distract me from current projects, but I'm resisting so far. ;-)

Yeah, me too.  It is low-hanging fruit and the market demand is under- 
served by existing solutions.  There is plenty of money to be made  

I have been playing with FUSE for a while, which while cool has a few  
limitations and quirks.  It has a lot of potential as the glue for  
this type of thing.

J. Andrew Rogers

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