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        storage system issues, both software and hardware


To facilitate and encourage communication among people interested in computer 
storage systems.  The scope of the discussions would include issues relevant 
to all types of computer storage systems, both hardware and software.  The 
general emphasis here is on open storage systems as opposed to platform 
specific products or proprietary hardware from a particular vendor.  Such 
vendor specific discussions might belong in or comp.periphs.  
Many of these questions are at the research, architectural, and design levels 
today, but as more general storage system products enter the market, 
discussions may expand into "how to use" type questions.


As processors become faster and faster, a major bottleneck in computing 
becomes access to storage services:  the hardware - disk, tape, optical, 
solid-state disk, robots, etc., and the software - uniform and convenient 
access to storage hardware.  A far too true comment is that "A supercomputer 
is a machine that converts a compute-bound problem into an I/O-bound 
problem."  As supercomputer performance reaches desktops, we all experience 
the problems of:

o       hot processor chips strapped onto anemic I/O
o       incompatable storage systems that require expensive
                systems integration gurus to integrate and
o       databases that are intimately bound into the quirks of an
                operating system for performance
o       applications that are unable to obtain guarantees on when
                their data and/or metadata is on stable storage
o       cheap tape libraries and robots that are under-utilized
                because software for migration and caching to
                disk is not readily available
o       nightmares in writing portable applications that attempt
                to access tape volumes

This group will be a forum for discussions on storage topics including the 

>1.     commercial products - OSF Distributed File System (DFS)
        based on Andrew, Epoch Infinite Storage Manager and
        Renaissance, Auspex NS5000 NFS server, Legato
        PrestoServer, AT&T Veritas, OSF Logical Volume Manager,
        DISCOS UniTree, etc.
>2.     storage strategies from major vendors - IBM System
        Managed Storage, HP Distributed Information Storage
        Architecture and StoragePlus, DEC Digital Storage
        Architecture (DSA), Distributed Heterogeneous Storage
        Management (DHSM), Hierarchical Storage Controllers, and
        Mass Storage Control Protocol (MSCP)
>3.     IEEE 1244 Storage Systems Standards Working Group
>4.     ANSI X3B11.1 and Rock Ridge WORM file system standards
>5.     emerging standard high-speed (100 MB/sec and up)
        interconnects to storage systems: HIPPI, Fiber Channel
        Standard, etc.
>6.     POSIX supercomputing and batch committees' work on
        storage volumes and tape mounts
>7.     magnetic tape semantics ("Unix tape support is an
>8.     physical volume management - volume naming, mount
        semantics, enterprise-wide tracking of cartridges, etc.
>9.     models for tape robots and optical jukeboxes - SCSI-2,
>10.    designs for direct network-attached storage (storage as
        black box)
>11.    backup and archiving strategies
>12.    raw storage services (i.e., raw byte strings) vs.
        management of
        structured data types (e.g. directories, database
>13.    storage services for efficient database support
>14.    storage server interfaces, e.g., OSF/1 Logical Volume
>15.    object server and browser technology, e.g. Berkeley's
        Sequoia 2000
>16.    separation of control and data paths for high performance
        by removing the control processor from the data path;
        this eliminates the requirements for expensive I/O
        capable (i.e., mainframe) control processors
>17.    operating system-independent file system design
>18.    SCSI-3 proposal for a flat file system built into the
        disk drive
>19.    client applications which bypass/ignore file systems:
        virtual memory, databases, mail, hypertext, etc.
>20.    layered access to storage services - How low level do we
        want device control?  How to support sophisticated, high
        performance applications that need to bypass the file
>21.    migration and caching of storage objects in a distributed
        hierarchy of media types
>22.    management of replicated storage objects
        (differences/similarities to migration?)
>23.    optimization of placement of storage objects vs. location
        transparency and independence
>24.    granularity of replication - file system, file, segment,
        record, etc.,
>25.    storage systems management - What information does an
        administrator need to manage a large, distributed storage
>26.    security issues - Who do you trust when your storage is
        directly networked?
>27.    RAID array architectures, including RADD (Redundant
        Arrays of Distributed Disks) and Berkeley RAID-II HIPPI
>28.    architectures and problems for tape arrays - striped tape
>29.    stable storage algorithm of Lampson and Sturgis for
        critical metadata
>30.    How can cheap MIPS and RAM help storage? -  HP DataMesh,
        write-only disk caches, non-volatile caches, etc.
>31.    support for multi-media or integrated digital continuous
        media (audio, video, other realtime data streams)

This group will serve as a forum for the discussion of issues which do not 
easily fit into the more tightly focused discussions in various existing 
newsgroups.  The issues are much broader than Unix (comp.unix.*, comp.os.*), 
as they transcend operating systems in general.  Distributed computer systems 
of the future will offer standard network storage services; what operating 
system(s) they use (if any) will be irrelevant to their clients.  The 
peripheral groups (comp.periphs, comp.periphs.scsi) are too hardware oriented 
for these topics.  Several of these topics involve active standards groups 
but several storage system issues are research topics in distributed systems.  
In general, the standards newsgroups ( are too narrowly focused 
for these discussions.


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Copyright 1996 Rod Van Meter