Design and Implementation of an Overlay File System for Cloud-Assisted Mobile Apps

Nafize Rabbani Paiker, Jianchen Shan, Cristian Borcea, Narain Gehani, Reza Curtmola, Xiaoning Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


With cloud assistance, mobile apps can offload their resource-demanding computation tasks to the cloud. This leads to a scenario where computation tasks in the same program run concurrently on both the mobile device and the cloud. An important challenge is to ensure that the tasks are able to access and share the files on both the mobile and the cloud in a manner that is efficient, consistent, and transparent to locations. Existing distributed file systems and network file systems do not satisfy these requirements. Current systems for offloading tasks either do not support file access for offloaded tasks or do not offload tasks with file access. The paper addresses this issue by designing and implementing an application-level file system called Overlay File System (OFS). To improve efficiency, OFS maintains and buffers local copies of data sets on both the cloud and the mobile device. OFS ensures consistency and guarantees that all the reads get the latest data. It combines write-invalidate and write-update policies to effectively reduce the network traffic incurred by invalidating/updating stale data copies and to reduce the execution delay when the latest data cannot be accessed locally. To guarantee location transparency, OFS creates a unified view of the data that is location independent and is accessible as local storage. We overcome the challenges caused by the special features of mobile systems on an application-level file system, like the lack of root privilege and state loss when application is killed due to the shortage of resource and implement an easy to deploy prototype of OFS. The paper tests the OFS prototype on Android OS with a real mobile app and real mobile user traces. Extensive experiments show that OFS can effectively support consistent file accesses from computation tasks, no matter whether they are on a mobile device or offloaded to the cloud. In addition, OFS reduce both file access latency and network traffic incurred by file accesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8068281
Pages (from-to)97-111
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • Cloud
  • consistency
  • file system
  • mobile devices
  • storage
  • task offloading


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