Distributed Architecture

In distributed architecture, components are presented on different platforms and several components can cooperate with one another over a communication network in order to achieve a specific objective or goal.

Middleware as an infrastructure for distributed system

Concepts Distributed Architecture

The basis of a distributed architecture is its transparency, reliability, and availability.

The following table lists the different forms of transparency in a distributed system −

Sr.No. Transparency & Description


Hides the way in which resources are accessed and the differences in data platform.



Hides where resources are located.



Hides different technologies such as programming language and OS from user.


Migration / Relocation

Hide resources that may be moved to another location which are in use.



Hide resources that may be copied at several location.



Hide resources that may be shared with other users.



Hides failure and recovery of resources from user.



Hides whether a resource ( software ) is in memory or disk.



Centralized System vs. Distributed System

Criteria Centralized system Distributed System
Economics Low High
Availability Low High
Complexity Low High
Consistency Simple High
Scalability Poor Good
Technology Homogeneous Heterogeneous
Security High Low

Client-Server Architecture

The client-server architecture is the most common distributed system architecture which decomposes the system into two major subsystems or logical processes −

In this architecture, the application is modelled as a set of services that are provided by servers and a set of clients that use these services. The servers need not know about clients, but the clients must know the identity of servers, and the mapping of processors to processes is not necessarily 1 : 1

Two Tier Client Server Architecture

Client-server Architecture can be classified into two models based on the functionality of the client −

Thin-client model

In thin-client model, all the application processing and data management is carried by the server. The client is simply responsible for running the presentation software.

Thick/Fat-client model

In thick-client model, the server is only in charge for data management. The software on the client implements the application logic and the interactions with the system user.

Thick/Fat-client Model



Multi-Tier Architecture (n-tier Architecture)

Multi-tier architecture is a client–server architecture in which the functions such as presentation, application processing, and data management are physically separated. By separating an application into tiers, developers obtain the option of changing or adding a specific layer, instead of reworking the entire application. It provides a model by which developers can create flexible and reusable applications.

N-Tier Architecture

The most general use of multi-tier architecture is the three-tier architecture. A three-tier architecture is typically composed of a presentation tier, an application tier, and a data storage tier and may execute on a separate processor.

Presentation Tier

Presentation layer is the topmost level of the application by which users can access directly such as webpage or Operating System GUI (Graphical User interface). The primary function of this layer is to translate the tasks and results to something that user can understand. It communicates with other tiers so that it places the results to the browser/client tier and all other tiers in the network.

Application Tier (Business Logic, Logic Tier, or Middle Tier)

Application tier coordinates the application, processes the commands, makes logical decisions, evaluation, and performs calculations. It controls an application’s functionality by performing detailed processing. It also moves and processes data between the two surrounding layers.

Data Tier

In this layer, information is stored and retrieved from the database or file system. The information is then passed back for processing and then back to the user. It includes the data persistence mechanisms (database servers, file shares, etc.) and provides API (Application Programming Interface) to the application tier which provides methods of managing the stored data.

Data Tier



Broker Architectural Style

Broker Architectural Style is a middleware architecture used in distributed computing to coordinate and enable the communication between registered servers and clients. Here, object communication takes place through a middleware system called an object request broker (software bus).

Components of Broker Architectural Style

The components of broker architectural style are discussed through following heads −


Broker is responsible for coordinating communication, such as forwarding and dispatching the results and exceptions. It can be either an invocation-oriented service, a document or message - oriented broker to which clients send a message.


Stubs are generated at the static compilation time and then deployed to the client side which is used as a proxy for the client. Client-side proxy acts as a mediator between the client and the broker and provides additional transparency between them and the client; a remote object appears like a local one.

The proxy hides the IPC (inter-process communication) at protocol level and performs marshaling of parameter values and un-marshaling of results from the server.


Skeleton is generated by the service interface compilation and then deployed to the server side, which is used as a proxy for the server. Server-side proxy encapsulates low-level system-specific networking functions and provides high-level APIs to mediate between the server and the broker.

It receives the requests, unpacks the requests, unmarshals the method arguments, calls the suitable service, and also marshals the result before sending it back to the client.


A bridge can connect two different networks based on different communication protocols. It mediates different brokers including DCOM, .NET remote, and Java CORBA brokers.

Bridges are optional component, which hides the implementation details when two brokers interoperate and take requests and parameters in one format and translate them to another format.

Broker Model

Broker implementation in CORBA

CORBA is an international standard for an Object Request Broker – a middleware to manage communications among distributed objects defined by OMG (object management group).

CORBA Architecture

Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)

A service is a component of business functionality that is well-defined, self-contained, independent, published, and available to be used via a standard programming interface. The connections between services are conducted by common and universal message-oriented protocols such as the SOAP Web service protocol, which can deliver requests and responses between services loosely.

Service-oriented architecture is a client/server design which support business-driven IT approach in which an application consists of software services and software service consumers (also known as clients or service requesters).


Features of SOA

A service-oriented architecture provides the following features −

SOA Operation

The following figure illustrates how does SOA operate −

SOA Operations