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Mathematics  2010 

Symmetric Allocations for Distributed Storage

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Abstract:

We consider the problem of optimally allocating a given total storage budget in a distributed storage system. A source has a data object which it can code and store over a set of storage nodes; it is allowed to store any amount of coded data in each node, as long as the total amount of storage used does not exceed the given budget. A data collector subsequently attempts to recover the original data object by accessing each of the nodes independently with some constant probability. By using an appropriate code, successful recovery occurs when the total amount of data in the accessed nodes is at least the size of the original data object. The goal is to find an optimal storage allocation that maximizes the probability of successful recovery. This optimization problem is challenging because of its discrete nature and nonconvexity, despite its simple formulation. Symmetric allocations (in which all nonempty nodes store the same amount of data), though intuitive, may be suboptimal; the problem is nontrivial even if we optimize over only symmetric allocations. Our main result shows that the symmetric allocation that spreads the budget maximally over all nodes is asymptotically optimal in a regime of interest. Specifically, we derive an upper bound for the suboptimality of this allocation and show that the performance gap vanishes asymptotically in the specified regime. Further, we explicitly find the optimal symmetric allocation for a variety of cases. Our results can be applied to distributed storage systems and other problems dealing with reliability under uncertainty, including delay tolerant networks (DTNs) and content delivery networks (CDNs).

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