File Replication Replication of files on different machines in a distributed file system is a useful redundancy for improving availability. Multimachine replication can benefit performance too: Selecting a nearby replica to serve an access request results in shorter service time.
Our coverage of NFS thus far has only considered version 3 (or V3) NFS. The most recent NFS standard is version 4 (V4), and it differs fundamentally from previous versions. The most significant change is that the protocol is now statefid, meaning that the server maintains the state of the client session from the time the remote file is opened until it is closed. Thus, the NFS protocol now provides openO and close 0 operations; previous versions of NFS (which are stateless) provide no such operations.
Furthermore, previous versions specify separate protocols for mounting remote file systems and for locking remote files. V4 provides all of these features under a single protocol. In particular, the mount protocol was eliminated, allowing NFS to work with network firewalls. The mount protocol was a notorious security hole in NFS implementations. Additionally, V4 has enhanced the ability of clients to cache file data locally. This feature improves the performance of the distributed file system, as clients are able to resolve more file accesses from the local cache rather than having to go through the server. V4 allows clients to request file locks from servers as well. If the server grants the request, the client maintains the lock until it is released or its lease expires. (Clients are also permitted to renew existing leases.)
Traditionally, UNIX-based systems provide advisory file locking, whereas Windows operating systems use mandatory locking. To allow NFS to work well with non-UNIX systems, V4 now provides mandatory locking as well. The new locking and caching mechanisms are based on the concept of delegation, whereby the server delegates responsibilities for a file's lock and contents to the client that requested the lock. That delegated client maintains in cache the current version of the file, and other clients can ask that delegated client for lock access and file contents until the delegated client relinquishes the lock and delegation. Finally, whereas previous versions of NFS are based on the UDP network protocol, V4 is based on TCP, which allows it to better adjust to varying traffic loads on the network. Delegating these responsibilities to clients reduces the load on the server and improves cache coherency.
The basic requirement of a replication scheme is that different replicas of the same file reside on failure-independent machines. That is, the availability of one replica is not affected by the availability of the rest of the replicas. This obvious requirement implies that replication management is inherently a location-opaque activity. Provisions for placing a replica on a particular machine must be available. It is desirable to hide the details of replication from users.
Mapping a replicated file name to a particular replica is the task of the naming scheme. The existence of replicas should be invisible to higher levels. At lower levels, however, the replicas must be distinguished from one another by different lower-level names. Another transparency requirement is providing replication control at higher levels. Replication control includes determination of the degree of replication and of the placement of replicas. Under certain circumstances, we may want to expose these details to users. Locus, for instance, provides users and system administrators with mechanisms to control the replication scheme. The main problem associated with replicas is updating. From a user's point of view, replicas of a file denote the same logical entity, and thus an update to any replica must be reflected on all other replicas. More precisely, the relevant consistency semantics must be preserved when accesses to replicas are viewed as virtual accesses to the replicas' logical files.
If consistency is not of primary importance, it can be sacrificed for availability and performance. In this fundamental tradeoff in the area of fault tolerance, the choice is between preserving consistency at all costs, thereby creating a potential for indefinite blocking, and sacrificing consistency under some (we hope, rare) circumstances of catastrophic failures for the sake of guaranteed progress. Locus, for example, employs replication extensively and sacrifices consistency in the case of network partition for the sake of availability of files for read and write accesses.
Ibis uses a variation of the primary-copy approach. The domain of the name mapping is a pair . If no local replica exists, a special value is used. Thus, the mapping is relative to a machine. If the local replica is the primary one, the pair contains two identical identifiers. Ibis supports demand replication, an automatic replication-control policy similar to whole-file caching. Under demand replication, reading of a nonlocal replica causes it to be cached locally, thereby generating a new nonprimary replica. Updates are performed only on the primary copy and cause all other replicas to be invalidated through the sending of appropriate messages. Atomic and serialized invalidation of all nonprimary replicas is not guaranteed. Hence, a stale replica may be considered valid. To satisfy remote write accesses, we migrate the primary copy to the requesting machine.
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