People Publications Projects

Back to StorNet Home

StorNet: Existing Components to be Used

Jump to:


When dealing with large amounts data and storage, the scientists need to interact with a variety of storage systems, each with different interfaces and security mechanisms, and to pre-allocate storage to ensure data generation and analysis tasks can take place successfully. To accommodate this need, the concept of Storage Resource Managers (SRMs) was developed at LBNL [SSG02, SSG03].

SRMs are middleware components whose function is to provide a common access interface, dynamic space allocation and file management for shared distributed storage systems. The goal of the SRM activity was to develop a standard specification against which multiple implementations can be developed. This approach proved to be a remarkable and unique achievement, in that now there are multiple SRMs developed in various institutions around the world that interoperate. SRMs are designed to provide support for storage space reservations, flexible storage policies, lifetime of files in spaces to mange space cleanup, and performance estimates. SRMs are middleware components whose function is to provide a common access interface and file management for shared distributed storage systems. Unlike other centralized approaches to a uniform access to a variety of file systems, such as SRB (Storage Resource Broker) SRM is based on an open standard, and therefore SRMs are being developed by multiple institutions for their storage systems.

SRM research has developed into an internationally coordinated effort between several DOE laboratories including LBNL, FNAL and TJNAF, as well as several European institutions. This coordinated effort has resulted in a standard specification, and the development of multiple SRMs at various institutions around the world [ABB+07]. This approach is particularly essential for providing distributed access to complex Mass Storage Systems (MSSs).

The most recent version of an SRM developed at LBNL, is called the Berkeley Storage Manager, or BeStMan. BeStMan is designed in a modular fashion, so that it can be adapted easily to different storage systems (such as disk-based systems, mass storage systems, such as HPSS, and parallel file systems, such as Lustre) as well as using different transfer protocols (including GSIFTP, FTP, BBFTP, HTTP, HTTPS). BeStMan is implemented in Java in order to be highly portable. It provides all the functions related to space reservations, dynamic space allocation, directory management, and pinning of files in space for a specified lifetime. It manages queues of multiple requests to get or put files into spaces it manages, where each request can be for multiple files or entire directories. When managing multiple files, BeStMan can take advantage of the available network bandwidth by scheduling multiple concurrent file transfers.

A natural use of SRMs is the coordination of large volume data streaming between sites. As an example, the BNL to NERSC DataMover setup [SGSN04] uses SRMs that access HPSS at both ends. The setup takes advantage of robustness features of the SRMs, which can recover from transient failures or interruption of the HPSS mass storage system (including scheduled maintenance). They use BeStMan for several years now to move about 10,000 files (about 1 TB) per week in an automated fashion. This arrangement resulted in great reduction in the error rates, from 1% to 0.02% in the STAR project, and essentially eliminated the human effort previously required.

The goal of the SRM/BeStMan activity was to develop a standard specification against which multiple implementations can be developed. This approach proved to be a remarkable and unique achievement, in that now there are multiple SRMs developed in various institutions around the world that interoperate. SRMs are designed to provide the following main capabilities:


The TeraPaths project [Tera-web] at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) investigates the combination of DiffServ-based LAN QoS with WAN MPLS tunnels and dynamic circuits in creating end-to-end (host-to-host) virtual paths with QoS guarantees. These virtual paths prioritize, protect, and regulate network flows in accordance with site agreements and user requests, and prevent the disruptive effects that conventional network flows can bring to one another.

Providing an end-to-end virtual network path with QoS guarantees (e.g., guaranteed bandwidth) to a specific data flow is a hard problem, because it requires the timely configuration of all network devices along the route between a given source and a given destination. In the general case, such a route passes through multiple administrative domains and there is no single control center able to perform the configuration of all devices involved. From the beginning of the TeraPaths project it was evident that effective and practical solutions to the multitude of issues that were anticipated to arise could only be reached through a collaborative study and experimentation on the network itself. Such issues included, for example, what QoS technology should be used within the end-site LANs, what options were available when dealing with administrative domains that cannot be dynamically controlled directly or indirectly, how to interface with WAN systems to automatically establish QoS paths through WAN domains, how to join path segments of different layers, etc. Having successfully addressed most crucial issues, the TeraPaths software is currently moving into the production phase.

The TeraPaths system [Tera-paper] has a fully distributed, layered architecture (see figure 2) and interacts with the network from the perspective of end-sites of communities. The local network of each participating end-site is under the control of an End-Site Domain Controller module (ESDC). The site's network devices are under the control of one or more Network Device Controller modules (NDCs). NDCs play the role of a "virtual network engineer" in the sense that they securely expose a very specific set of device configuration commands to the ESDC module. The software is organized so that NDCs can be, if so required by tight security regulations, completely independently installed, configured, and maintained. A NDC encapsulates specific functionality of a network device and abstracts this functionality through a uniform interface while hiding the complexity of the actual configuration of heterogeneous hardware from higher software layers. Each site's ESDC and NDC(s) are complemented by a Distributed Services Module (DSM), which is the core of the TeraPaths service. The DSM has the role of coordinating all network domains along the route between two end hosts (each host belonging to a different end-site) to timely bring up the necessary segments to establish an end-to-end path. The DSM interfaces with the ESDCs of its own and other remote sites to configure the path within the end-site LANs (direct control) and furthermore interfaces with WAN controlling software to bring up the necessary path segments through WAN domains (indirect control). To interface with non-TeraPaths domain controllers, primarily for WAN domains but also for end-sites that are using other software (e.g., Lambda Station), the DSM uses auxiliary modules that encapsulate the functionality of the targeted domain controller by invoking the required API but exposing a standardized abstract interface. All the DSM "sees" is a set of "proxy" WAN or end-site services with uniform interface.

This part of TeraPaths is designed for maximum flexibility as a DSM can interface with possibly any kind of domain controller that offers at least basic path setup functionality; it is similar to the way operating systems control hardware through device drivers. Furthermore, it is possible to follow any end-to-end setup coordination model. Currently, TeraPaths follows a hybrid star/daisy chain coordination model where the initiating end-site first coordinates with the target site and then indirectly sets up a WAN path by contacting its primary WAN provider and relying on that provider's domain controller to coordinate, if necessary, with other WAN domains along the desired route. This approach does not require an end site to set up a route by individually contacting WAN domain controllers along a WAN chain (star model), which would, in turn, require end-sites to have detailed knowledge of the network so as to know which controllers need to be contacted, what capabilities each one has, etc. The star model is centralized and significantly increases the complexity of setting up a path. On the other hand, the daisy chain model requires all participants (end-sites and WAN domains) to use a common communication protocol that allows full functionality of all basic operations of every participant (e.g., so that TeraPaths-specific parameters are guaranteed to arrive at the destination end- site). Such a protocol does not yet exist, however, if and when such a protocol is adopted, TeraPaths can easily adapt. The hybrid coordination model was adopted as the most feasible. All TeraPaths instances can interface with OSCARS interdomain controllers to setup MPLS tunnels through ESnet and dynamic circuits through ESnet and Internet2.


On-demand Secure Circuit Advance Reservation System (OSCARS) is a guaranteed bandwidth provisioning system for DOE ESNET standard IP network and advanced Science Data Network (SDN). It was designed specifically to meet the science-discipline-driven network requirement of dynamically provisioned quality of service (QoS) paths. This production service has effectively demonstrated that an end site can reserve bandwidth within ESnet to accommodate deadline scheduling. OSCARS initially provided guaranteed bandwidth circuits within ESnet in the form of MPLS tunnels (network layer). Through the collaboration between ESnet and Internet2, the system evolved into a more general Inter-Domain Controller (IDC) still provides MPLS tunnels within ESnet, but that can now also provide guaranteed bandwidth layer 2 circuits within and between ESnet's Science Data Network (SDN) and Internet2's Dynamic Circuit Network (DCN). The OSCARS user interface is via web services. The actual web services call may come from an API in a program or from a web browser. The circuits typically last from 10s of minutes to days or sometimes weeks. Circuits can be reserved some period of time before being required.

DCN users and implementers are researching to determine the capabilities that a dynamic circuit network needs to provide to make them valuable to users. Some areas of research include negotiation of resources between competing users, varying bandwidth allocation based on varying application need, and debugging of dynamic circuits that cross multiple boundaries. Higher level research is planned on how to present circuit capabilities to users, and how users characterize application needs in a way that allows the two to make appropriate choices about which resources to use and when to use them.