Storage for the Site Administrator


This page includes information general storage hardware requirements and the selection of storage software. Links are given to the installation documentation. Before planning storage for your site, please make sure you understand the overall storage infrastructure as described in Storage Infrastructure Software.

Planning and Configuration

For descriptions of the specific software discussed below, please see the Storage Infrastructure Software page.

Choosing the storage software

Each site may chose what storage software to deploy. If you can anticipate usage patterns you can more effectively plan your system. To see a summary of data movement patterns, see Storage for the End User. Based on expected job runtime and data movement profiles, the following are rules of thumb for addressing this issue. Further information and installation instructions are provided in succeeding sections.

  • Shared file system. If the jobs running on your site need less than a few terabytes of storage and have lightweight, local data transfer requirements, a NFS filesystem shared among worker nodes would be sufficient. In further documentation, this option is covered in the "Local Storage" section, since it must be configured along with additional required storage that resides on the worker node itself.

  • gridftp server. If access to authorized off-site entities is required and storage size and data-handling capacities are moderate, a gridFTP server should be deployed. Since Storage Elements also include bundled gripFTP servers, consider the cost/benefit of installing a Storage Element in this case. A Storage Element may be somewhat more complex to set up, but offers benefits in throughput and expandability.

  • Storage Element. If your site will provide storage for many terabytes of data, or will provide extensive storage access to off-site entities, you will need to install a Storage Element. There are choices among Storage Element implementations that present a range of complexity and capability; see the following sections.

Sites often employ some combination of the above, for example, allowing jobs with light storage requirements to use a shared file system, but making a Storage Element available for greater storage needs. In some cases the Storage Element and the shared file system may use the same underlying distributed file system, providing local access from the worker nodes and external access through the gsiftp protocol, or the SRM specification.

Other Required Software

In addition to the above, on the Open Science Grid other software for grid-wide monitoring and accounting of storage must be installed.

  • Gratia. For OSG Grid Accounting, probes are installed to gather information on storage transactions and report the the central gratia server. For details, see OSG Accounting

  • GIP. For OSG Discovery services, an information provider is installed to send storage configuration such as endpoints and authorization policies to the central discovery server. For more information, see OSG Information Services

  • RSV. For OSG Monitoring, probes are run to test the functionality of a site, reporting to the central Grid Operations Center RSV collector/server. The OSG documentation for RSV may be found at RSV Monitoring Information.

Optional Software

Depending the size and complexity of your site, you may also find useful the following.

  • Operational Tools. Scripts running independently of storage software processes have been developed to aid in management, monitoring, and troubleshooting tasks. Please see the section below on the OSG Storage Operational Tools.

  • Catalog. Larger experiments often employ a catalog to allow tracking of the location of data sets and allow logical file names to be used by applications in place of site-specific paths. The Virtual Organization itself typically writes and operates its own catalog. For this reason, OSG does not provide catalog software. As well as software written by and for specific VOs, there are some generic implementations, see the Storage Infrastructure Software topic for more information.

Hardware Requirements for Storage Elements

For a storage size of from several to a few tens of terabytes, a disk array is recommended. If data redundancy through RAID5 is desired, the usable storage will be about half of the installed disk space. It is recommended that any Storage Element be installed on at least one dedicated server, several if higher performance is needed, up to dozens if a large distributed storage system is employed. For very high transfer rates, 10 Gbs network connections are used if available through the campus network infrastructure. Except for the largest sites, processor requirements are not more severe than for computational nodes, though namespace nodes for systems storing a large number for files may need 8 or even 16 GB memory.

To determine the number of nodes needed for a Storage Element, we provide general hardware requirements for the BeStMan and dCache SRM implementations. Also see the discussion in Release Site Planning page on the kind of nodes needed for sites of various sizes.


Installation of the software listed above is provided in the release documentation. Specific links are shown below.

Shared file system

OSG does not provide instructions for creating a shared NFS file system. Assuming such has be set up, instructions for configuring OSG software to make use of it and other needed storage types are found in Local Storage Configuration. Some Storage Elements allow sharing of files through mount points. See the documentation for each storage element to determine its local access capability.

gridftp server

A stand-alone gridftp server was once called a storage element, and so is still sometimes referred to as a "classic SE". Installation of a gridftp server is included in the OSG distribution, see GSIFTP Server Installation. For an overview of the general features and use of gridftp, please see Overview of GridFTP in the Open Science Grid .


xrootd provides posix-like file access in the context of physics analysis programs written with "root". It is included in the OSG distribution. For installation instructions, see Xrootd Stand Alone. Note that xrootd can also be installed with BeStMan Gateway for serving files through gridftp and the SRM specification, and the dCache SRM implementation supports the xrootd protocol.

Storage Element

All Storage Element implementations in the Open Science Grid support the gsiftp protocol and the SRM specification (with the exception of the BeStMan Gateway, which supports key elements of the SRM specification, not including space reservation). Implementations vary in other features, such as the choice of underlying distributed storage, support for additional file transfer protocols, and support for a tape-archival backend. Because it allows for a choice among various distributed storage implementations, there are several flavors of BeStMan Gateway in particular.


Berkeley Storage Manager (BeStMan) is a full implementation of SRM v2.2 that works on top of existing disk-based unix file systems. Developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, for a disk based storage and mass storage systems such as HPSS, it has been reported so far to work on file systems such as NFS, GPFS, PVFS, GFS, Ibrix, HFS+, Hadoop, XrootdFS and Lustre. It also works with any existing file transfer service, such as gsiftp, http, https, bbftp and ftp.

BeStMan-Gateway is a variant of BeStMan that supports a subset of the SRM v2.2 specification. The difference between BeStMan (sometimes specifically called BeStMan-fullmode) and BeStMan-gateway is that BeStMan is always installed over a disk-based unix filesystem and satisfies all of the SRM specification, while BeStMan-gateway satisfies "core" SRM specifications but can be installed over any mounted filesystem. Space reservation via client callout is not supported in BeStMan-gateway, but can be done by site administrators. BeStMan-gateway is specifically designed to work with gLite File Transfer Service (FTS), glite-url-copy and LCG-utils, componments of gLite software used by the ATLAS experiment on the Large Hadron Collider. BeStMan-gateway is included in the OSG software distribution. If installing BeStMan-gateway specifically on an xrootd or hadoop filesystem, see the corresponding sections below. For other filesystems, see [[BeStMan][BeStMan Gateway Installation]].

The fullmode version of BeStMan is included in the OSG software distribution. For installation instructions, see Berkeley Storage Manager?. If you choose to install either the BeStMan fullmode version or BeStMan-gateway on a server that is a Compute Element, please follow the specific instructions on that page. Note that this configuration is not recommended unless you are extremely limited in hardware.

A BeStMan-based SE consists of one BeStMan installation and one or more GridFTP installations.

  • If your site will be allowing VOs to do heavy data movement (dedicated or opportunistic), you should have a node dedicated to BeStMan. At the time of this writing, the VOs that use storage heavily are CMS, ATLAS, CDF, and D0.
  • If you serve one of the above VOs and have more than 250 cores, you should definitely have a dedicated BeStMan node.
  • If your site will be managing more than 50 TB of disk space, you should have a node dedicated to BeStMan.
  • If none of the above apply, you can co-locate BeStMan and your GridFTP server on the same node.
  • If you have less than 1Gbps bandwidth to your site, then you need only one GridFTP server - at most, 2 servers will be needed.
  • If you have more than 1Gbps bandwidth, then you should plan on at least one GridFTP server per 4Gbps of available bandwidth (assuming you have 10Gbps interfaces on the server) if you want to maximize throughput. If you do not have 10Gbps interfaces, make sure you have roughly 1.5 Gbps of network interface cards per 1 Gbps of WAN bandwidth. In this case, you should not co-locate your GridFTP and BeStMan server.

If you have absolutely no idea what your site's usage will be, we recommend 1 server (BeStMan + GridFTP combined) for 0-200 cores, one to two dedicated GridFTP servers for 200 - 500 cores, and 2 to 10 dedicated GridFTP servers for over 500 cores, depending on your site's load.


If some applications need to access the storage through an xrootd server, and other applications need access the gsiftp protocol or SRM specification, then BeStMan-gateway over an xrootd filesystem should be installed. For installation instructions, see BeStMan-Gateway Xrootd.

In order to serve files through the xroot protocol, additional nodes are needed beyond the standard BeStMan installation. The absolute minimum number of nodes is 3:

  1. BeStMan, XrootdFS, FUSE, GridFTP
  2. Xrootd redirector
  3. Xrootd data server node

Please see the above BeStMan section for guidance on additional nodes that may be needed according to usage. Added file servers could be Xrootd data server nodes or GridFTP servers -the decision should be based on your application requirements.


HDFS is a distributed filesystem that uses the hadoop computing paradigm and implementation. To allow additional access to a hadoop filesystem through gridftp SRM, install ReleaseDocumentation.BeStMan-gateway over the "hadoop" filesystem. OSG provides installation through a VDT yum repository. Community support is available through an osg-hadoop mailing list. For installation instructions, please see the Hadoop HDFS release documentation.

The minimal BeStMan-hadoop deployment will have two nameservice nodes, datanodes, and a node for BeStMan and gridftp. Expansion to hundreds of terabytes is possible by the addition of additional gridftp servers and storage nodes. For details, see Hadoop Recommended Hardware


The OSG no longer packages dCache. Instead, please visit the dcache homepage to get this software.

The architecture for medium and large sites is similar among the Storage Element implementations: a node to handle incoming SRM requests, an node for the namespace server, nodes for gridftp servers, and storage nodes. The general guidelines given in the BeStMan planning material (see above) for the numbers needed are applicable for dCache installations as well. The Release Site Planning page has examples of how the services are distributed among nodes in medium and large dCache deployments. More detailed diagrams of dCache setups for small, medium, and large sites may be found at dCache hardware layouts. This document provides a good guide for the layout of dCache hardware in a variety of scales.


Gratia probes are provided for each of the supported storage implementations. For installation instructions, please see the links contained in the installation documentation for the specific storage element being installed.


Installation procedures for Generic Information Providers are provided in the Release Documentation for each supported storage implementation. The GIP is configured as part of a Compute Element installation; see Compute Element Install


RSV probes are included in OSG software packaging. The probes are normally installed on a Compute Element, see Install And Configure RSV for installation instructions. The probes may now also be installed on a non-CE standalone machine.

OSG Storage Operational Tools

For dCache installations, the OSG Storage Operations Toolkit provides community-contributed scripts to assist in or automate storage operational tasks. The tools are installed as rpms. For the current functionality of the toolkit, please see the Operations Toolkit documentation.


The article dCache Tuning gives recommended Linux TCP/IP parameter tunings for dCache. Since the tuning was done at the operating system level, it would also apply to other Storage Element implementations.


Troubleshooting procedure is generally specific to the storage implementation used; please see the release documentation links above for tips on troubleshooting your installation. For further help, the following resources are available.

OSG support process

For problems encountered by users, upon submitting a ticket to the Grid Operations Center, the first line of support is their Virtual Organization. The VO may contact the site if the problem requires it. For further escalation, sites may submit tickets through GOC to receive help from the OSG Storage group.

A Note on Support from Software Providers

Software providers often have their own support channels independent of the OSG. We discourage direct submission of requests to providers whose storage software is supported by the OSG. The OSG Storage group has support relationships with providers whereby tickets may be escalated to them as need be. Submitting tickets through the GOC process allows for orderly dispatch of requested help and a record of problems/solutions that will ultimately benefit the community as a whole.

OSG Storage mailing list

Sites may also request help directly to the OSG Storage mailing list, in which case questions may be answered by the community or a GOC ticket opened by OSG Storage as deemed necessary. In order to post a message, you must first join the list; see OSG Storage Activities for more information.


-- DouglasStrain 11 Oct 2011

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