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Computational Network Federations (CNFs) enable an arbitrary set of heterogeneous hosts which are connected via any type of network to form dynamic virtual distributed systems that cooperate to execute an application, or serve as generalized application service platforms to end users. CNFs motivate a view of the Internet as a vast unified host: a repository of information, application services, and an omnipresent supercomputing resource regardless of the type of access device or access methodology. CNFs provide a powerful way of virtualizing generalized enterprise networks (or even the Internet), and an economic and resilient model for deploying enterprise applications, (such as CRM) and peer-2-peer services (e.g., chatrooms). This paper describes a middleware architecture that enables network-based computing, communications, and services through a unified, access, and platform-independent approach. CNFs borrow from the capabilities of grid computing and aim toward intelligent computational service networks that are ubiquitous, secure, and adaptive to user and access-method idiosyncrasies. CNFs encompass a set of abstractions and interfaces that provide: 1) a unified service-oriented view of the network to the user; 2) a homogeneous host abstraction to applications; and 3) a shared-memory abstraction to software developers. This paper outlines the architecture of CNFs and describes in more detail i-DVM, a distributed multithreaded meta-OS that forms the core of a CNF and implements the virtual machine abstraction and location transparency.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2005