ECE 590-02: Enterprise Storage Architecture

Section 02, Fall 2018

The invention of RAID probably ruined this guy's life.


Lecture location: Fitzpatrick Schiciano B (the big room in CIEMAS)
Lecture time: MW, 3:05PM - 4:20PM

Instructor: Dr. Tyler Bletsch
Email: Tyler.Bletsch AT
Office Hours: Tue/Thu 4pm-5pm in Hudson 106

Teaching Assistant: George Bernard (george.bernard AT
TA Office Hours: See Piazza post



#DateLectureAssignment due
Project due
1 Mon 8/27 Course introduction and policies
2 Wed 8/29 Overview of storage systems and project discussion
3 Mon 9/3 Hard disks, SSDs, and the I/O subsystem
4 Wed 9/5 Hard disks, SSDs, and the I/O subsystem (Fri 9/7)
Lab 0
5 Mon 9/10 Hardware failure in storage devices
6 Wed 9/12 RAID (Fri 9/14) Project proposal due, meeting scheduled
7 Mon 9/17 Network-Attached Storage (NAS) (9/17-9/21) Project proposal meetings
8 Wed 9/19 Storage Area Network (SAN) Lab 1 &
Homework 1

9 Mon 9/24 Filesystems
10 Wed 9/26 Filesystems (Fri 9/28) Project outlines due, meetings scheduled
11 Mon 10/1 Filesystems (10/1-10/5) Project outline meetings
12 Wed 10/3 Storage efficiency
Mon 10/8 Fall break
13 Wed 10/10 Business continuity: High availability (Due Thu 10/11)
Lab 2
Homework 2
14 Mon 10/15 Business continuity: High availability
15 Wed 10/17 Business continuity: Disaster recovery
16 Mon 10/22 Business continuity: Disaster recovery
NetApp field trip
17 Wed 10/24 Project milestone presentations (!) (Wed 10/24) Project milestone presentations
18 Mon 10/29 Virtual environments
19 Wed 10/31 .~*CLOUD*~.
20 Mon 11/5 Security
21 Wed 11/7 Data forensics and recovery Lab 3
Homework 3
22 Mon 11/12 Workload profiling and sizing
23 Wed 11/14 Project pre-demo evaluation and feedback
24 Mon 11/19 Next-gen storage technologies (Mon 11/19) Project demos scheduled
Wed 11/21 Thanksgiving break
25 Mon 11/26 Project final presentations (!) ↓ Posted 11/3!
Lab 4 &
Homework 4
(11/26-12/7) Project demo meetings
(All project materials to be submitted by 12/7)
26 Wed 11/28 Project final presentations (!)
Sun 12/16 Final exam: 2am-5pm

Field trip to NetApp

We'll be doing a field trip to NetApp. There, we'll hear about the storage controller software development as well as architecting complete customer environments and get a tour of their giant datacenter.

Syllabus & policies

Course synopsis

A chance to study the design and deployment of massive storage systems of the sort used in large enterprises (banks, major IT departments, service providers, etc.). Includes coverage of hard disk and flash design, RAID, SAN and NAS topologies, filesystem design, data center architectures for high availability, data deduplication, business continuity, power aware storage, and the economics of data storage with respect to cloud computing.

Assignments include hands-on lab work with physical servers, some pen-and-paper problems, and semester-long programming project.

Pre-requisites for grad students: ECE 650 (Systems Programming and Engineering) or instructor consent.

Pre-requisites for undergrad students: Computer Science 310/ECE 353 (Operating Systems). Will also need basic networking knowledge (IP addressing, that network switches exist, layer 2 vs layer 3). This can be provided by ECE/COMPSCI 356 (Network Architecture), personal experience, or self-education in parallel with the course.

If you feel you have an OS and networking background but are missing the above pre-reqs, just contact me.

Grading breakdown

This course will require a semester-long project, homework assignments, and a final exam. Grading breakdown:

Project proposal2%
Project outline3%
Project milestone presentation5%
Project final presentation15%
Project demo20%
Final exam10%

Homework and Labs

There are two kinds of regular assigments, homeworks and labs:

In either case, you are free to discuss concepts covered in the class with others (other groups for lab work and other people for individual homework), but should not share answers or concrete steps oustide the bounds of academic integrity.

Late homework/lab submissions incur penalties as follows:

NOTE: If you feel in advance that you may need an extension, contact the instructor. We can work with you if you see a scheduling problem coming, but extensions cannot be granted at or near the due date!

Your homework/lab grade will be based on what you submit to Sakai and when you submit it.

Student servers

To support experimentation on real hardware, several storage servers have been procured. Students will split into groups of ~3 and each will be assigned a server. Homeworks will guide students through physically examining, racking, installing, configuring, and using the servers in realistic scenarios.

Some of the hardware is a little dated, but it will exhibit all the usual performance trends, and it has the drives to experiment with RAID topologies, hybrid HDD+SSD storage, filesystem performance, and more. Budget does exist for upgrades if needed (e.g., adding a modern HDD for a comparitive performance study).

The servers will start out in Hudson 06, but after setting them up, students will install these servers into a standard four-post rack. For this purpose, rack space has been set aside in the "FitzWest" data center in the basement of CIEMAS; students will be granted badge access to this space for this purpose.

NOTE: FitzWest is a real production data center for Duke. Students must exercise caution when working in this space, taking care not to disturb operations of other systems.

In order to guide students through the early phases of server configuration, a few out-of-class lab sessions will be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time. Once servers are configured and deployed properly, all subsequent operations should be able to be conducted over the internet. However, if a physical malfunction occurs (such as drive failure or accidentally trashing the installed OS), students may need to do in-place maintenence of their server within its FitzWest rack.

Any major hardware failures should be reported to the course instructor.

Grade appeals

All regrade requests must be in writing. Email the TA with your questions. After speaking with the TA, if you still have concerns, contact the instructor.

All regrade requests must be submitted to the instructor no later than 1 week after the assignment was returned to you.

Academic integrity

I take academic integrity extremely seriously. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated, and all suspected violations of the Duke Honor Code will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct (for undergraduates) or the departmental Director of Graduate Studies (for graduate students). A student found responsible for academic dishonesty faces formal disciplinary action, which may include suspension. A student twice suspended automatically faces a minimum 5-year separation from Duke University.

In addition to the measures taken by the university, the affected assignment(s) will receive zero credit, or possibly -100% in egregious cases.

If you are considering this course of action, please see me instead, and we can work something out! I want every student in my course to be successful.