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Infinite Scale: Decomposed FS Functionality for Unprecedented Scaling

More recent versions of ownCloud make use of a functionality called Decomposed FS. This file system is designed to bring Infinite Scale to arbitrary storage backends, and also scalable ones.
Infinite Scale Decomposed FS functionality file structure

ownCloud Infinite Scale, currently in Beta stage, is a multi-purpose, cloud-native data platform with a strong focus on performance, scalability, security and governance. It was designed to empower organizations to build their sovereign cloud data ecosystem and have full control over their data in a simple and affordable manner.

Though Infinite Scale was originally conceptualized as a successor of ownCloud 10, it has developed into a brand new, standalone, customizable product that boasts new features and is the foundation for many solutions in which data access with compliance, sovereignty and security requirements play a key role.

Decomposed FS functionality for unlimited scaling

So far, ownCloud users have has two choices: simple local file storage based on a POSIX-compatible file system or EOS Open Storage (EOS), both of which come with their fair share of complexities and shortcomings. More recent versions of ownCloud make use of a functionality called Decomposed FS. This file system is designed to bring Infinite Scale to arbitrary storage backends, and also scalable ones.

Infinite Scale involves a complete rewrite of ownCloud from PHP to Go and massive changes in the backend of the software.

What exactly is Decomposed FS

Decomposed FS is an attempt by ownCloud to disengage ownCloud’s own file handling from the handling of files on the underlying storage device. Decomposed FS is called so because it partially implements certain aspects of a POSIX file system on top of arbitrary storage facilities. Contrary to existing solutions, the core concept of Decomposed FS is centered around the idea of file access based on unique IDs, and specifically, Universally Unique Identifiers (UUIDs).

How does Decomposed FS work in practice

Decomposed FS is based on a hierarchy model of file-handling, not much different from the POSIX file handling system. A root directory serves as an entry point to the full range of files stored in ownCloud. Infinite Scale will create individual files with unique IDs as names on the file system layer below that root directory. Within those files, the actual payload (blob) of the files will be placed.

From a user’s point of view, it’s still possible to implement a hierarchical structure independent of how they are arranged in ownCloud internally, for example, Pictures / Summer 2022 / Holiday in Greece.

To make such a structure possible, ownCloud developers use symbolic links. They create a separate tree with the “nodes” that represent the files and folders of the user-facing tree. The file metadata is stored in the extended attributes of that node. This ensures that accessing files by simply traversing over them (more precisely, the tree of symbolic links) remains possible, along with the ability to access individual files based on their unique ID directly.

Another advantage is that iterating over the tree just needs to load the nodes which contain no file contents. The file contents are loaded only when the user downloads the file. Moving files within the tree doesn’t affect the file contents but only changes the nodes tree.

Infinite Scale Decomposed FS functionality file structure

The first incarnation of Decomposed FS uses unique IDs (UUIDs) to name files. A structure of symbolical links is additionally established to allow access by traversing a tree of files.

The future of Decomposed FS

The concept of Decomposed FS and disengaging the actual file storage from the file system metadata are revolutionary concepts in making Infinite Scale available to a much bigger audience.

Individual or home users using a single disk as a local Infinite Scale storage backend would benefit from the superior performance of Decomposed FS. On the other hand, organizations of any size is sure to appreciate the ease of running Infinite Scale in scalable storage solutions.

Decomposed FS is very much considered by ownCloud as the testbed for future development. The Infinite Scale file system driver implements most components of the Decomposed FS design. ownCloud developers are working on exciting ideas to further experiment and improve the feature and extend the Decomposed FS feature sheet.

To understand how Decomposed FS eliminated the shortcomings of previously-used file systems and for detailed technical insights into the concept, read this press release.

Sign up for a 14-day free trial of Infinite Scale Beta and be among the first to take Infinite Scale for a spin.

Anwesha Ray

August 15, 2022

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