SDI Seminar

Speaker: Mic Bowman, member of the technical staff, Transarc Corporation

Managing Complexity in Wide-Area File Systems

Date: January 23, 1997


Wide-area file systems like AFS and DFS enable file sharing between users in a large, distributed organization. However, the sheer volume and diversity of users, organizations, and files compilcate the task. For the next generation of file systems, we propose a uniform, logical interface to file objects that uses encapsulation, interogation, and content-based addressing to manage complexity.

Our design is driven by three basic principles. First, we believe it is necessary to respect the fundamental diversity that exists in file systems. Our new interface augments the traditional file system interface with operations to access the information content in the file, not just the bytes.

Second, we concede that any distributed system must accommodate autonomous administration at some level. For this reason we focus our efforts on interoperability between independent organizations that agree to some level of cooperation.

Finally, we acknowledge that other communities have technology that is particularly relevant to this problem, especially the object database and information retrieval communities. Instead of reinventing, we seek to integrate whenever possible.

The result of our efforts is a new file system, called Synopsis, with object-oriented extensions to the traditional file system interface. This talk will describe the object-oriented extensions that enable SynFS to manage the problems associated with wide-area file systems.