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

info | readings | syllabus | other resources

Course Staff

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

General Information

The course meeting times are Mon, Wed 12-2pm. There will be occasional makeup classes, whose dates will be announced in advance. See schedule for exact dates.


13.2.2021 10:00: To join the hy590.45 mailing list, send an e-mail to majordomo@csd with body subscribe hy590-45-list

7.2.2021 10:00: The course will start on Monday 15/2 and meet on MS Teams. To join, identify through UCNet and use code s11eolm

1.1.2021 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
Mon 15/2 Course overview -
Wed 17/2 Background See recommended readings
Mon 22/2 Extending file systems over the network Sandberg: Design and Implementation of the Sun Network Filesystem
Wed 24/2 NFS (contd.) Macklem: Not Quite NFS, Soft Cache Consistency for NFS
Mon 1/3 Distributed coordination Lamport: Paxos made simple
Wed 3/3 Paxos (contd.) Proposals for project topics due
Mon 8/3 Distributed virtual disks Lee: Petal: Distributed Virtual Disks
Wed 10/3 Petal (contd.) Proposals for papers (presentations I & II) due
Mon 15/3 Clean Monday -
Wed 17/3 Distributed file systems I Thekkath: Frangipani: A Scalable Distributed File System
Mon 22/3 Distributed file systems II Ghemawat: The Google File System
Wed 24/3 Google file system (contd.) -
Mon 29/3 Related work presentations I IK, SK, GK
Wed 31/3 Related work presentations I IM, AN, MN
Mon 5/4 Related work presentations I GS, KT, GZ
Wed 7/4 Application-specific storage systems Saito: Manageability, Availability and Performance in Porcupine: A Highly Scalable, Cluster-based Mail Service
Mon 12/4 Porcupine (contd.) -
Wed 14/4 Structured data Chang: A Distributed Storage System for Structured Data
Mon 19/4 BigTable (contd.) -
Wed 21/4 In-class quiz Project progress reports
Mon 26/4 - Fri 7/5 Easter recess -
Mon 10/5 Related work presentations II IK, SK, GK
Wed 12/5 Related work presentations II IM, AN, MN
Mon 17/5 Related work presentations II GS, KT, GZ
Wed 19/5 Distributed transactions Corbett: Spanner: Google's Globally-Distributed Database
Mon 24/5 Spanner (contd.) -

Projects HOWTO

Please note the following project guidelines:

Other Resources / Useful links