Mobile Agent-Based System for Distributed Software Maintenance
The evolution of today’s computing environments towards heterogeneous distributed systems introduces specific challenges to the area of software maintenance and testing. Software maintenance on emerging telecommunication systems that are distributed over a wide area is a hard task because it is not easy or even possible to perform final testing on a remote target system, as well as on system in operation.
Experiences show that it is possible for new software running on a target system to give a result different from the one obtained on test system. The reasons are mostly the structural and/or functional differences between both systems. Therefore, only implementation and testing on the actual target system can give the answer whether the new software solves the problem (i.e., error, new operational circumstances, enhancement, and maintainability improvement) or not. Service management and software configuration operations in distributed systems become very demanding tasks as the number of computers and/or geographical distances between them grow. The situation gets worse with an increase in the complexity of the network and the number of nodes.
This chapter describes Multi-Agent Remote Maintenance Shell (MA-RMS) as a mobile agent-based system for distributed software maintenance. It represents a protected environment for the software management without suspending or influencing regular operation. It enables the distributed service management operations (deployment, configuration, control, monitoring, upgrading, and versioning), as well as the advanced features related to the verification of the actual target system. MA-RMS is based on the operations performed by mobile agents that act within an agent team. Presented case studies elaborate three scenarios in which MA-RMS prototype is used for managing software employed in the distributed environment. The first scenario represents the maintenance process for two applications specifically written to be used with MA-RMS. The second one illustrates the procedures needed to be done when the software can be modified to use the advanced features of the RMS prototype, while the third scenario shows how the software which cannot be modified, can yet be maintained and thus adapted to MA-RMS.
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