FlexGroup Volumes: A Distributed WAFL File System

Ram Kesavan, Google; Jason Hennessey, Richard Jernigan, Peter Macko, Keith A. Smith, Daniel Tennant, and Bharadwaj V. R., NetApp

2019 USENIX Annual Technical Conference

The rapid growth of customer applications and datasets has led to demand for storage that can scale with the needs of modern workloads. We have developed FlexGroup volumes to meet this need. FlexGroups combine local WAFL® file systems in a distributed storage cluster to provide a single namespace that seamlessly scales across the aggregate resources of the cluster (CPU, storage, etc.) while preserving the features and robustness of the WAFL file system.

In this paper we present the FlexGroup design, which includes a new remote access layer that supports distributed transactions and the novel heuristics used to balance load and capacity across a storage cluster. We evaluate FlexGroup performance and efficacy through lab tests and field data from over 1,000 customer FlexGroups.

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