UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Towards a high-performance scalable storage system for workflow applications Vairavanathan, Emalayan


This thesis is motivated by the fact that there is an urgent need to run scientific many-task workflow applications efficiently and easily on large-scale machines. These applications run at large scale on supercomputers and perform large amount of storage I/O. The storage system is identified as the main bottleneck on large-scale computers for many-task workflow applications. The goal of this thesis is to identify the opportunities and recommend solutions to improve the performance of many-task workflow applications. To achieve the above goal this thesis proposes a two-step solution. As the first step, this thesis recommends and designs an intermediate storage system which aggregates the resources available on compute nodes (local disk, SSDs, memory and network) and provides a minimal POSIX API required by workflow applications. An intermediate storage system facilitates a high performance scratch space for workflow applications and allows the applications to scale transparently compare to a regular shared storage systems. As the second step, this thesis performs a limit study on workflow-aware storage system: an intermediate storage that is tuned depending on I/O characteristics of a workflow application. Evaluation with synthetic and real workflow applications highlights the significant performance gain attainable by an intermediate storage system and a workflow-aware storage system. The evaluation shows that an intermediate storage can bring up to 2x performance gain compared to a central storage system. Further a workflow-aware storage system can bring up to 3x performance gain compared to a vanilla distributed storage system that is unaware of the possible file-level optimizations. The findings of this research prove that an intermediate storage system with minimal POSIX API is a promising direction to provide a high-performance scalable storage system for workflow applications. The findings also strongly advocate and provide design recommendations for a workflow-aware storage system to achieve better performance gain.

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