This lesson concludes the chapter with a brief summary.

AFS shows us how distributed file systems can be built quite differently than what we saw with NFS. The protocol design of AFS is particularly important. By minimizing server interactions (through whole-file caching and callbacks), each server can support many clients and thus reduce the number of servers needed to manage a particular site. Many other features, including the single namespace, security, and access-control lists, make AFS quite nice to use. The consistency model provided by AFS is simple to understand and reason about and does not lead to the occasional weird behavior as one sometimes observes in NFS.

Perhaps, unfortunately, AFS is likely on the decline. Because NFS became an open standard, many different vendors supported it, and, along with CIFS (the Windows-based distributed file system protocol), NFS dominates the marketplace. Although one still sees AFS installations from time to time (such as in various educational institutions, including Wisconsin), the only lasting influence will likely be from the ideas of AFS rather than the actual system itself. Indeed, NFSv4 now adds server state (e.g., an “open” protocol message), and thus bears an increasing similarity to the basic AFS protocol.

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