Design and Evaluation of Colossus

Colossus control plane and scalability

We’ve seen the architecture of Colossus and its components in the previous lesson. The most significant and interesting part of Colossus is the control plane that manages the underlying storage/file servers and replaces the GFS single manager. A GFS cluster consists of a single manager and multiple chunkservers, with a possibility of multiple GFS cluster instances per data center. If an application's data exceeds the limits that a single GFS cluster can handle, it uses multiple GFS cluster instances. If an application is storing its data on multiple clusters, it means there is some partitioning logic that should be implemented to tell which data should be stored in cluster 1, which data should go to cluster 2, and so on.

With GFS clusters, applications themselves are responsible for partitioning data across different GFS cluster instances. The need for multiple GFS clusters arises because a single cluster is not scalable enough to meet the growing data demands of the application. As we’ve discussed in the previous lesson, the reason for these scalability issues was the single manager. Colossus comes with a control plane that replaces the single manager in GFS, and makes the Colossus cluster scalable to exabytes of data and hundreds of thousands of machines.

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