RAFDA: A policy-aware middleware supporting the flexible separation of application logic from distribution

Scott Walker, Alan Dearle, Stuart Norcross, Graham Kirby, Andrew McCarthy

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Middleware technologies often limit the way in which object classes may be used in distributed applications due to the fixed distribution policies that they impose. These policies permeate applications developed using existing middleware systems and force an unnatural encoding of application level semantics. For example, the application programmer has no direct control over inter-address-space parameter passing semantics. Semantics are fixed by the distribution topology of the application, which is dictated early in the design cycle. This creates applications that are brittle with respect to changes in distribution. This paper explores technology that provides control over the extent to which inter-address-space communication is exposed to programmers, in order to aid the creation, maintenance and evolution of distributed applications. The described system permits arbitrary objects in an application to be dynamically exposed for remote access, allowing applications to be written without concern for distribution. Programmers can conceal or expose the distributed nature of applications as required, permitting object placement and distribution boundaries to be decided late in the design cycle and even dynamically. Inter-address-space parameter passing semantics may also be decided independently of object implementation and at varying times in the design cycle, again possibly as late as run-time. Furthermore, transmission policy may be defined on a per-class, per-method or per-parameter basis, maximizing plasticity. This flexibility is of utility in the development of new distributed applications, and the creation of management and monitoring infrastructures for existing applications.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of St Andrews
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Publication series

NameTechnical Report


  • cs.DC
  • Distributed, parallel, and cluster computing


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