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New approach to retrieve data much faster

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Researchers have developed a novel approach that significantly improves the storage efficiency and output speed of computer systems. The new approach called FLAIR, optimises data storage systems by using all the servers within a given network. Therefore, when a user makes a data request, if the main server is full, another server automatically activates to fill it.

According to the researchers, current data storage systems use only one storage server to process information, making them slow to retrieve information to display for the user. A backup server only becomes active if the main storage server fails, the study said.

“Since the invention of computers, networks that connect storage servers in any system were rigid and inflexible. FLAIR leverages a new cutting-edge networking technology to build a smart network layer that can find the fastest way to fulfil information retrieval requests,” said study researcher Samer Al-Kiswany from the University of Waterloo in Canada.

“Our evaluation shows that this approach can fulfil requests up to 2.5 times faster, compared to classical designs,” Al-Kiswany added.

In developing the new protocol, the researchers first had to prove its correctness and formally verify it to ensure the approach will not return bad results. They were able to test FLAIR with real workloads on campus, as Waterloo is one of the few universities that have a cluster with the new programmable network.

The research team found that FLAIR increased retrieval speeds by anywhere from 35 to 97 per cent.

“This will lead to a whole range of applications as this type of system is the core building block of a wide range of applications,” said study researcher Ibrahim Kettaneh.

According to the study, FLAIR can significantly improve the performance of databases and data processing engines, which are the backends for health systems, banking systems and financial transactions.

It will also be applicable to any modern computer application hosted on the cloud, such as online documents, social networks and emails. This study is scheduled to be presented at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design Implementation in the US from February 25-27.

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