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Understanding Distributed Systems – Introduction

Chapter 1: Introduction

In the realm of modern technology, the need for distributed systems has become increasingly apparent. But why invest time and resources in building such intricate infrastructures? Chapter 1 sets the stage by addressing this fundamental question—Why do we bother building distributed systems in the first place?

1.1 The Imperative of High Availability and Resilience

Distributed systems are a necessity in today’s world. Some applications demand high availability, requiring resilience to single-node failures. Others face workloads too colossal for a single node to handle, regardless of its power. In addition, certain applications possess performance requirements that are physically unattainable with a solitary node.

1.2 Key Elements for a Healthy Distributed Application

Beyond the ‘why,’ it’s crucial to understand the ‘how.’ The chapter delves into the most important elements to ensure the health of a distributed application:

1.2.1 Communication

The first hurdle lies in the need for seamless communication among nodes over the network. Effective communication is the backbone of any distributed system.

1.2.2 Coordination

Coordinating individual nodes to work harmoniously toward a shared objective poses another formidable challenge. Coordination is the glue that binds the distributed system together.

1.2.3 Scalability

Performance is a critical metric for distributed applications. Scalability, measured in terms of throughput and response time, determines how efficiently an application can handle varying workloads and demands.

  • Throughput: The number of requests processed per second.
  • Response Time: The elapsed time between sending a request and receiving a response.

1.2.4 Resiliency

A distributed system’s true test lies in its resilience. A system is resilient when it can continue functioning despite inevitable failures. At scale, Murphy’s Law holds true—anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

1.2.5 Maintainability

While development initiates the journey, the majority of a software’s cost lies in its post-development phase. Maintainability is key—it involves bug fixes, feature additions, and the day-to-day operation of the system.

In summary, Chapter 1 serves as a comprehensive introduction to the world of distributed systems, answering the ‘why’ and shedding light on the pivotal elements essential for crafting a robust and resilient distributed application. Stay tuned as we navigate deeper into the intricate landscape of distributed systems in the chapters to come.

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