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Pangaea is a wide-area file system that supports the daily storage needs of a distributed community of users. It is a platform for ad-hoc data sharing--it enables multinational corporations, distributed groups of collaborating users, and content management systems to exchange data efficiently using a file system.

Pangaea builds a unified file system across a federation of up to thousands of widely distributed computers connected by dedicated or virtual private networks. We currently assume that all servers are trusted; relaxing the trust relationship is future work. The system faces continuous reconfiguration, with users moving, companies restructuring, and computers being added or removed. Thus, Pangaea must meet three key goals:

Hide the wide-area networking latency; file access speed should resemble that of a local file system.
Availability and autonomy:
Avoid depending on the availability of any specific node. Pangaea must adapt automatically to server additions, removals, failures and network partitioning.
Network economy:
Minimize the use of wide-area networks. Nodes are not distributed uniformly; some nodes are in the same LAN, whereas some others are half way across the globe. Pangaea should transfer data between nodes in physical proximity, when possible, to reduce latency and save network bandwidth.

We argue that a system should follow a symbiotic design to achieve these goals in dynamic, wide-area environments. In such a system, each server functions autonomously and allows reads and writes to its files even when disconnected. As more computers become available, or as the system configuration changes, servers dynamically adapt and collaborate with each other, in a way that enhances the overall performance and availability of the system.

Pangaea realizes symbiosis by pervasive replication. It aggressively creates a replica of a file or directory whenever and wherever it is accessed. There is no single ``master'' replica of a file. Any replica may be read or written at any time, and replicas exchange updates among themselves in a peer-to-peer fashion. Pervasive replication achieves high performance by serving data from a server close to the point of access, high availability by letting each server contain its working set, and network economy by transferring data among close-by replicas. The following sections introduce two key strategies used to implement pervasive replication.

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Next: Graph-based replica management Up: Taming aggressive replication in Previous: Taming aggressive replication in
Yasushi Saito 2002-10-08