Optimal scheduling algorithms for tertiary storage

Sunil Prabhakar, Divyakant Agrawal, Amr El Abbadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


The ever growing needs of large multimedia systems cannot be met by magnetic disks due to their high cost and low storage density. Consequently, cheaper and denser tertiary storage systems are being integrated into the storage hierarchies of these applications. Although tertiary storage is cheaper, the access latency is very high due to the need to load and unload media on the drives. This high latency and the bursty nature of I/O traffic result in the accumulation of I/O requests for tertiary storage. We study the problem of scheduling these requests to improve performance. In particular we address the issues of scheduling across multiple tapes or disks as opposed to most other studies which consider only one or two media. We focus on algorithms that minimize the number of switches and show through simulation that these result in near-optimal schedules. For single drive libraries an efficient algorithm that produces optimal schedules is developed. For multiple drives the problem is shown to be NP-Complete. Efficient and effective heuristics are presented for both single and multiple drives. The scheduling policies developed achieve significant performance gains over naive policies. The algorithms are simple to implement and are not restrictive. The study encompasses all types of storage libraries handling removable media, such as tapes and optical disks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-282
Number of pages28
JournalDistributed and Parallel Databases
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes



  • I/O scheduling
  • Multiple drives
  • Optimal
  • Removable media
  • Single-drive
  • Tape libraries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

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