Designing a Configurable Group Service with Agreement Components

Fabíola Gonçalves Pereira GreveJean-Pierre Le Narzul

In the recent past years, many group toolkits, providing a support for the construction of reliable applications, have been designed. Even if the goals of their designers was similar, these toolkits differ in (i) the way the problems are tackled and (ii) the way the protocols are structured and set up in real systems. This paper presents the underlying design principles of a group system. It follows two innovative approaches which contribute to its flexible and configurable character. From an algorithmic point of view, the group primitives are implemented as instances of a generic consensus service. This choice leads to a great number of advantages: (a) the computation in the group is guaranteed as soon as a quorum of entities can communicate, (b) decoupling the group membership service from the communication service, (c) a better control of the dysfunc- tions in periods of strong network instability. From an architectural point of view, the elementary group protocols are regarded as autonomous agreement components, which can be combined freely for the implementation of other richer reliable services. This strategy differs from the classical ones in which the protocols are structured according to a fixed hierarchy of classes following a stack-based pattern of interaction.

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