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LinuxConf Europe 2007
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Sunday 2nd - Wednesday 5th September
University Arms Hotel, Cambridge, England

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Mika Karlstedt - University of Helsinki

The Evaluation of SAF AIS implementation

The Service Availability (SA) Forum was created in December 2001 to create open standards for high availability frameworks. So far the forum has published two specifications, Hardware Platform Interface (HPI) and Application Interface Specification (AIS). Almost all hardware vendors provide HPI with their enterprise (HW) products. It is clearly a success story. The more complex AIS specification has not yet received similar status but the situation is slowly changing.

The SA Forum is interested in providing high serviceability solutions. High availability and serviceability are closely related but slightly different concepts. The availability means that the service is available when the user wants it. The serviceability means that the service is available and that there are no breaks in the service while the user is using it. In practice, serviceability requires extra effort to ensure that the user sees no breaks even when servers fail.

Ensuring serviceability is not the only problem in a clustered high-availability environment. Many tasks that are easy to do in a centralized environment become more difficult in a distributed environment. Therefore, AIS provides also services that make creating highly available applications easier.

There are already many frameworks that provide those features, but they all have their own programming environment. It is not possible to start a project using one framework and later change to another framework if the first framework does not have all the required features. The change is possible, but usually so expensive that it is not economically feasible. The SA Forum hopes to create a common programming environment, where users could start the work in one framework and easily switch to another if they choose. If both frameworks provide the same API with the same semantics, users can avoid vendor lock-in.

The AIS (or HPI) specifications are not themselves in any way Linux specific, but there are many implementations that work on top of Linux. The SA Forum does not implement anything but leaves the implementation to the industry. At the moment there are no implementations that would implement all of the AIS specification, but hopefully the situation will change in the future. We will first introduce the SA Forum and the AIS specifications. Then we will present our evaluation of existing AIS compliant implementations. Our evaluation focused on how much of the specification was implemented and not for example on the quality of the implementations. It is our firm belief that the AIS will play a crucial role in the adoption of Linux in the HA industry.

Submitted paper

Paper (PDF) and Paper (tgz) .


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