A Case for Event-Driven Distributed Objects
Much work has been done in order to make the development of distributed systems as close as sensible to the development of centralized systems. As a result, there are today good distributed object solutions that closely resemble centralized programming. However, this very attempt to mimic centralized programming implies that distributed objects create the illusion that threads traverse the whole distributed application. This brings all the problems related to multi-thread programming, including the need to reason about the thread behavior of the whole application, which gets amplified by the large scale and inherent non-determinism of distributed systems. Moreover, distributed objects present other troubles when the application is not pure client-server, i.e., when the client has other things to do besides waiting for the server.
As an alternative, there are a number of message-based non-blocking communication solutions. Unfortunately, these solutions were not designed to directly address the above mentioned issue of multi-threading over the whole distributed application. In addition: (i) these solutions are not as well integrated to the programming language as distributed objects, and (ii) most of them do not provide a well-defined embedded failure detection mechanism, something that is crucial for the development of many distributed systems, and that is well solved by distributed objects (as they couple method invocation and failure detection).
We here propose and evaluate an improvement for such a status-quo, named JIC (Java Internet Communication). JIC is an event-driven middleware that relies on a non-blocking communication model, yet providing close semantics to the object-oriented paradigm. JIC is designed to combine the best characteristics of distributed objects and message-based solutions. For instance, JIC defines precise scope for the application’s threads, promotes non-blocking communication, provides a failure detection service that is simple to use with precise semantics, and has performance comparable to Java RMI. Furthermore, JIC is designed to be firewall and NAT friendly, greatly helping the deployment of JIC-based applications across multiple administrative domains.
KeywordsAccess Point Common Object Request Broker Architecture Method Invocation Precise Semantic Remote Object
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