Definition - What does Distributed System mean?
A distributed system is a network that consists of autonomous computers that are connected using a distribution middleware. They help in sharing different resources and capabilities to provide users with a single and integrated coherent network.
Techopedia explains Distributed System
The key features of a distributed system are:
- Components in the system are concurrent. A distributed system allows resource sharing, including software by systems connected to the network at the same time.
- There can be multiple components, but they will generally be autonomous in nature.
- A global clock is not required in a distributed system. The systems can be spread across different geographies.
- Compared to other network models, there is greater fault tolerance in a distributed model.
- Price/performance ratio is much better.
The key goals of a distributed system include:
- Transparency: Achieving the image of a single system image without concealing the details of the location, access, migration, concurrency, failure, relocation, persistence and resources to the users
- Openness: Making the network easier to configure and modify
- Reliability: Compared to a single system, a distributed system should be highly capable of being secure, consistent and have a high capability of masking errors.
- Performance: Compared to other models, distributed models are expected to give a much-wanted boost to performance.
- Scalability: Distributed systems should be scalable with respect to geography, administration or size.
Challenges for distributed systems include:
- Security is a big challenge in a distributed environment, especially when using public networks.
- Fault tolerance could be tough when the distributed model is built based on unreliable components.
- Coordination and resource sharing can be difficult if proper protocols or policies are not in place.
- Process knowledge should be put in place for the administrators and users of the distributed model.