What is a distributed system?

"Is it possible to coordinate all the actions with a single system? Well knowing about distributed systems will help in solving the issue."

Managing all the systems and daily activities of an organization or company requires a great deal of precision. Even a small error in one part can cause considerable chaos in an overall system.

High-organized services and companies need various components and systems to peacefully manage the work with ease. If you are looking for the easiest way, then you should try out distributed systems or distributed computing.

So what is a distributed system? It is nothing but multiple components and systems that are located at various locations which coordinate with each other to give a single system for the users. The main goal of these distributed systems is to coordinate all the activities of the components present in a system.

Components of distributed systems

When talking about the various components present in a distributed system, it comprises computers, physical servers, virtual machines, containers, and much more that are related to storage and memory.

Even if a single component is missing, it would be difficult to manage the activities in the organization. Based on the goals these systems are divided into three types:

  1. Distributed information system: This system helps in distributing the information to various systems and servers. These act as communication intermediates.

  2. Distributed pervasive systems: Computing applications like monitors, microprocessors, sensors, and so on are used by ubiquitous computing to perform tasks for users.

  3. Distributed computing system: A distributed computing system consists of different software components and computers that coordinate with each other to perform activities.

Functions of distributed systems

  • The primary purpose of distributed systems is sharing of data and information among the components present. The components present can be either software or hardware.
  • It is very crucial that all users who are dependent on a given component or distributed system have access to shared information.
  • Data and resources should be transparently accessible. It should not be difficult for the users to communicate through the distributed system.
  • There should be no defect or flaw in how the systems and components function. Even when the same function is executed by multiple components, the work should be seamless.
  • The flaws, errors, or bugs identified in the system should be detected and rectified at a faster rate.

Types of distributed systems

Distributed systems are divided into four architecture models,

A) Client servers: These servers act as a bridge between the end-user and the system. Transmission of data, information, and other details occurs through the client servers.

B) Three-tier: A three-tier application usually consists of three structures: the presentation tier, application tier, and data tier. This tier is responsible for functional progress, the storage of end-user data, and easy accessibility to the data.

C) N-tier: N-tier is also known as multiple tier architecture, which is generally used to work between the data tiers and presentation tiers.

D) Peer-to-Peer: In this type of architecture, there is no need for additional components or servers to act as a medium between the client and server. The resources are managed by systems known as peers which reduce the function of the additional components.

Benefits of distributed systems

When distributed systems are implemented, they provide numerous benefits.

  • By implementing distributed systems, clients can manage a large volume of traffic and don't have to resort to traditional methods for monitoring traffic and views of their products.
  • Distributed systems work on multiple components and therefore you can have fewer defects and faults when compared to the work done by a single component.
  • Distributed systems are more cost-effective than other computing methods when it comes to maintenance.
  • Distributed systems have a high level of efficiency since they are highly organized and the complex systems are broken down into smaller systems for easier functioning.
  • There will be minimal latency when working with distributed systems. There will be various nodes and locations for the data to be stored and transmitted so that latency can be reduced.

Challenges in distributed systems

  1. Communication: Since there are various nodes, networks, and servers present in distributed systems, there are possibilities for the information to be misplaced or delivered wrongly.

  2. Security: The presence of nodes at various locations reduces the security of the systems. It is difficult to offer the same level of security across all components in the distributed system.

  3. Installation: Distributed systems are complex connections between the servers. Though maintenance is less, the installation costs are high.


To give some examples of where distributed systems are used, it is now being highly used in all fields like healthcare, gaming, banking, and much more.

In spite of their complexity and sophistication, these systems are widely used due to their easy integration, seamless functioning, and low latency. It is true that organizations are looking for smooth workflow and functionality, which is why they choose distributed systems over other methods.

Further Reading

  1. What is Atatus APM and its Benefits?
  2. What are the most common web application issues that you might face day-to-day in your application?
  3. What is an API monitoring?

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