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Scalable and Manageable content based Object Management Disclosure Number: IPCOM000022685D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Mar-25
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Mar-25
Document File: 2 page(s) / 40K

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Consider the case in which storage devices contain a heterogeneous set of objects. Each object has a different set of attributes and the need to be managed (that is, moved from one device to another, compressed, etc.) according to these attributes. To use a concrete example, DICOM medical images (DICOM objects) contain tags that assign values to certain object attributes, such as the age of the patient whose image is contained inside the DICOM object, the image compression format, etc. One may want to define a lifecycle for each image to define how the storage manager will treat the image according to its tag values, e.g., in the US, images of a child could be kept for 23 years, while adult images could be kept for 7 years. A simple approach would be to have the storage manager understand the inner structure of the objects and interpret their attributes. The storage manager could then hold a state machine that expresses the life-cycle of each object and executes it. The problems with this solution are: 1. Since the storage manager needs to know the inner structure of the object, the storage manager would have to be changed whenever one wanted to add a new type of object. 2. The storage manager would need to keep a state machine for each object and constantly monitor the object. This is unlikely to be scaled. 3. Defining the object's state machine would be harder, as each unique object would need to be addressed specifically. The above issues have deterred storage-management solutions from providing content-based management for stored objects. Each object is treated the same. One can look, for example, at TSM and see that all objects arriving from a specific TSM node are treated the same, no matter their content. This invention suggests an approach that allows for easy, scalable, and manageable content-based storage management by introducing classifiers, equivalence classes, object pools, and policies.

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Scalable and Manageable content based Object Management

To overcome the limitations of the current object managers on one hand and the limitations of naive implementations on the other, this invention suggests the following:

1. The storage manager will know how to manage equivalence classes. Each equivalence class will denote a certain life-cycle for the objects belonging to it and for the operations that the objects pass through while moving between their lifecycle stages.
2. The lifecycle and operations associated with the equivalence classes will be defined by an administrative entity, using policies. Policies will govern both movement between lifecycle stages and the operations applied to an object during its lifecycle.
3. Objects will be entered into the manager using classifiers. The classifiers will know the internal structure of each object and will associate it with a specific equivalence class.

Using this solution will allow for scalable content-based object management using an object manager that does not know the internal structure of the objects. Adding support for new object formats will become an issue of adding a simple classifier.

The invention will be implemented as follows:

1. First, one should define the basic capabilities of the manager in terms of the fine-grained operations that it provides on the objects managed within it and the lifecycle state transitions that they cause. Using these defined capabilities, an administrator will later be able to define a lifecycle for the managed object.
2. For each of the object types managed by the manager a classifier should be provided. Adding the object into the manager should be done through the classifier. Similarly, altering the object while it is being managed should be done through the classifier; alternatively, the classifier should be consulted once the object is altered.
3. An administrative entity should define equivalence classes inside the manager, the managed operations...