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Distributed computing is a computing concept that, in its most general sense, refers to multiple computer systems working on a single problem. In distributed computing, a single problem is divided into many parts, and each part is solved by different computers. As long as the computers are networked, they can communicate with each other to solve the problem. If done properly, the computers perform like a single entity.
The ultimate goal of distributed computing is to maximize performance by connecting users and IT resources in a cost-effective, transparent and reliable manner. It also ensures fault tolerance and enables resource accessibility in the event that one of the components fails.
The idea of distributing resources within a computer network is not new. This first started with the use of data entry terminals on mainframe computers, then moved into minicomputers and is now possible in personal computers and client-server architecture with more tiers.
A distributed computing architecture consists of a number of client machines with very lightweight software agents installed with one or more dedicated distributed computing management servers. The agents running on the client machines usually detect when the machine is idle and send a notification to the management server that the machine is not in use and available for a processing job. The agents then requests an application package. When the client machine receives this application package from the management server to process, it runs the application software when it has free CPU cycles and sends the result back to the management server. When the user returns and requires the resources again, the management server returns the resources was using to perform different tasks in the user's absence.