The Multi-tiered Future of Storage: Understanding Cost and Performance Trade-offs in Modern Storage Systems

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Virginia Tech


In the last decade, the landscape of storage hardware and software has changed considerably. Storage hardware has diversified from hard disk drives and solid state drives to include persistent memory (PMEM) devices such as phase change memory (PCM) and Flash-backed DRAM. On the software side, the increasing adoption of cloud services for building and deploying consumer and enterprise applications is driving the use of cloud storage services. Cloud providers have responded by providing a plethora of choices of storage services, each of which have unique performance characteristics and pricing. We argue this variety represents an opportunity for modern storage systems, and it can be leveraged to improve operational costs of the systems.

We propose that storage tiering is an effective technique for balancing operational or de- ployment costs and performance in such modern storage systems. We demonstrate this via three key techniques. First, THMCache, which leverages tiering to conserve the lifetime of PMEM devices, hence saving hardware upgrade costs. Second, CAST, which leverages tiering between multiple types of cloud storage to deliver higher utility (i.e. performance per unit of cost) for cloud tenants. Third, we propose a dynamic pricing scheme for cloud storage services, which leverages tiering to increase the cloud provider's profit or offset their management costs.



multi-tier storage, persistent memory, cloud storage, in-memory cache, multi-level cache, MapReduce, analytics workflows, pricing games, dynamic pricing