Chapter 12. Parallel Filesystems

If you are certain that your cluster will only be used for computationally intensive tasks that involve very little interaction with the filesystem, you can safely skip this chapter. But increasingly, tasks that are computationally expensive also involve a large amount of I/O, frequently accessing either large data sets or large databases. If this is true for at least some of your cluster’s applications, you need to ensure that the I/O subsystem you are using can keep up. For these applications to perform well, you will need a high-performance filesystem.

Selecting a filesystem for a cluster is a balancing act. There are a number of different characteristics that can be used to compare filesystems, including robustness, failure recovery, journaling, enhanced security, and reduced latency. With clusters, however, it often comes down to a trade-off between convenience and performance. From the perspective of convenience, the filesystem should be transparent to users, with files readily available across the cluster. From the perspective of performance, data should be available to the processor that needs it as quickly as possible. Getting the most from a high-performance filesystem often means programming with the filesystem in mind—typically a very “inconvenient” task. The good news is that you are not limited to a single filesystem.

The Network File System (NFS) was introduced in Chapter 4. NFS is strong on convenience. With NFS, you will recall, ...

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