Serverless Network File Systems

Thomas Anderson, Michael Dahlin, Jeanna Neefe, David Patterson, Drew Roselli, Randy Wang. Serverless Network File Systems. ACM Transactions on Computer Systems 14,1. pp. 41-79. February 1996. Also appeared as Award Paper in Proc. Fifteenth Symposium on Operating Systems Principles. pp. 109-126. December 1995.

In this paper, we propose a new paradigm for network file system design, serverless network file systems. While traditional network file systems rely on a central server machine, a serverless system utilizes workstations cooperating as peers to provide all file system services. Any machine in the system can store, cache, or control any block of data. Our approach uses this location independence, in combination with fast local area networks, to provide better performance and scalability than traditional file systems. Further, because any machine in the system can assume the responsibilities of a failed component, our serverless design also provides high availability via redundant data storage. To demonstrate our approach, we have implemented a prototype serverless network file system called xFS. Preliminary performance measurements suggest that our architecture achieves its goal of scalability. For instance, in a 32-node xFS system with 32 active clients, each client receives nearly as much read or write throughput as it would see if it were the only active client.