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We describe a decentralized, adaptive mechanism for replica location in wide-area distributed systems. Unlike traditional, hierarchical (e.g, DNS) and more recent (e.g., CAN, Chord, Gnutella) distributed search and indexing schemes, nodes in our location mechanism do not route queries, instead, they organize into an overlay network and distribute location information. We contend that this approach works well in environments where replica location queries are prevalent but the dynamic component of the system (e.g., node and network failures, replica add/delete operations) cannot be neglected. We argue that a replica location mechanism that combines probabilistic representations of replica location information with soft-state protocols and a flat overlay network of nodes brings important benefits: genuine decentralization, low query latency, and flexibility to introduce adaptive communication schedules. We support these claims in two ways. First, we provide a rough resource consumption evaluation: we show that, for environments similar to those encountered in large scientific data analysis projects, generated network traffic is limited and, more importantly, is comparable to the traffic generated by a request routing scheme. Second, we provide encouraging performance data from a prototype implementation.
Date of Conference: 2002