Computer Science Department, University of Crete
HY-590.45. Modern Topics in Scalable Storage Systems

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Course Staff

Name Email Office Hours
Instructor: Kostas Magoutis hy590-45@csd By appt./H-311
Teaching Assistant: Stefanos Kalogerakis hy590-45@csd By appt.

General Information

The course meets on Tue, Thu 12-2pm in H.208. There will be occasional makeup classes to be held Fridays 12-2pm (A.121), their exact dates will be announced in advance. See schedule for exact dates.


3.4.2023 10:00: Project proposals (see Projects HOWTO) are due by Thursday 6/4

10.2.2023 10:00: To join the hy590.45 mailing list, send an e-mail to majordomo@csd with body subscribe hy590-45-list

10.2.2023 10:00: We will be using the AWS Academy cloud platform for course assignments, you may find our course page here

12.1.2023 10:00: The course will start on Tuesday 7/2

1.1.2023 10:00: You are welcome to get in touch with the instructor to discuss course-related issues

Course Description

The explosive growth of information processing services in recent years has created an unprecedented need for storage capacity. Scalable access to storage resources requires a class of distributed systems designed for fast, reliable, and uninterrupted access to storage media (e.g., magnetic disks and tapes) over high-speed networks. This course offers an introduction to scalable storage systems and examines existing design techniques as well as current research problems in the design and implementation of such systems, along with possible solutions.

Some of the advantages of the scalable storage model over direct-attached storage include expandable capacity and performance, as well as improved utilization and sharing of distributed storage resources. A number of challenges, however, are facing the scalable storage systems architect: First, it is the higher complexity (compared to direct-attached storage) due to the distributed nature of the scalable storage system. Administration, capacity planning, configuration, backup, and disaster recovery are complicated in large-scale scalable storage systems. Second, transferring data over the network requires stronger security and safety guarantees than when transferring them on the system I/O bus. In addition, it sometimes requires new, storage-specific network transport protocols. These and other challenges make scalable storage an exciting research area that has made significant advances in recent years.

The core part of the course focuses on the study of scalable storage systems with special emphasis on architectures, design principles for scalable performance, reliability, and availability, the management of data during their lifecycle, application-specific design concepts, ways to reduce implementation cost, storage system capacity planning, and storage outsourcing services.

This course is targeted for graduate students and advanced undergraduates and requires the undertaking of a research project. The topics of the research projects will be chosen with the help and guidance of the course staff.




The final grade depends on class participation, an in-class quizz, a research project, and a final exam.


There are a number of paper readings that are available online. You are expected to read the papers before the beginning of each class.

There is no required textbook for this class. The following textbooks, however, are recommended readings:


Date Topic Readings, notes
Tue 7/2 Course overview -
Thu 9/2 Background See recommended readings
Tue 14/2 Background II See recommended readings
Thu 16/2 Extending file systems over the network Sandberg: Design and implementation of the Sun Network Filesystem
Tue 21/2 NFS (contd.) Macklem: Not Quite NFS, Soft Cache Consistency for NFS
Thu 23/2 NFS (contd.) Lecture slides, Selection of papers to be presented due
Tue 28/2 NFS (contd.) Lecture slides
Thu 2/3 Instructor out of town, no class -
Thu 9/3 Distributed coordination Ongaro: In Search of an Understandable Consensus Algorithm
Tue 14/3 Raft (contd.) Lecture slides
Thu 16/3 Class will be reschueduled -
Tue 21/3 Raft (contd.) Lecture slides
Thu 23/3 Distributed virtual disks Lee: Petal: Distributed virtual disks
Tue 28/3 Related work presentations I 1263, 1267
Thu 30/3 Related work presentations I (contd.) 1289, 1311
Tue 4/4 Class will be rescheduled -
Thu 6/4 Related work presentations I (contd.) 1322, Project proposals due
10/4-21/4 Easter recess -
Tue 25/4 Distributed file systems I Thekkath: Frangipani: A Scalable Distributed File System
Thu 27/4 Instructor out of town, no class -
Tue 2/5 Distributed file systems II Ghemawat: The Google File System
Thu 4/5 Distributed file systems II -
Tue 9/5 Instructor out of town - no class -
Thu 11/5 Instructor out of town - no class -
Tue 16/5 Related work presentations II 1263, 1267
Thu 18/5 Related work presentations II (contd.) 1289, 1311
Tue 23/5 Class rescheduled for Fri 26/5 12pm -
Thu 25/5 Related work presentations II (contd.) 1322
Fri 26/5 12pm Application-specific storage systems Saito: Manageability, Availability and Performance in Porcupine: A Highly-Scalable, Cluster-based Mail Service
Tue 20/6 Project reports due -
Tue 22/6 Project presentations -

Projects HOWTO

Please note the following project guidelines:

Other Resources / Useful links