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Organisational structures evolve and develop rapidly in response to economic, social and technological changes. These frequent changes induce a demand from management on the distributed computing systems which support their organisations. In a very large distributed system there may be millions of objects that have to be managed, making it impossible to deal with in terms of individual components.
The domain model offers a solution to manage this complexity by grouping hardware and software components as named objects in an hierarchical structure similar to an hierarchical file system. The domain model can also be used to describe the authority for configuration management using access rules between domains, allowing managers in one domain appropriate access to managed objects in other domains.
This thesis describes an object management system supporting the domain model that is fully distributed and scalable and shows how it can be applied to configuration management. Objects may be files, processes, hardware components, groups and even abstractions of organisations or users; all may be managed using the same concepts. One of the key features is the novel approach to user interaction with such large systems.
This thesis presents:
• the management architecture of a domain service providing a scalable distributed naming service that has no central management and provides dynamically configurable directory services with minimum overheads. The system is scalable to large distributed networks with multiple sources of authority.
• the implementation architecture of a domain service including the different components providing distributed support services. The degree of distribution can be chosen by the administrator and dynamically adjusted to suit local conditions.
• the technique for translation of access rules into non-centralised access control information that is distributed throughout appropriate sub-trees of the domain hierarchy for speed and reliability.
• the federation of independent domain systems allowing them to become aware of each other and to interact whilst maintaining their independent policies.
The use of the domain service is demonstrated by showing how domains can be used to partition responsibilities and specify authorisation policy for software configuration management of open systems. Software configuration management can be used in an interactive fashion to inspect distributed application configurations and permits users to make adjustments by altering the binding between component interfaces. The concepts described in this thesis are being used by the SysMan and IDSM Esprit projects.
Copyright © Kevin Twidle 1993, London, England
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