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Chapter: Distributed Systems : Peer To Peer Services and File System

Naming Services

Which one is easy for humans and machines? and why? · or google.com · or distributed systems website · or Prof. Buyya · Disk 4, Sector 2, block 5 OR /usr/raj/hello.c

Naming Services


Which one is easy for humans and machines? and why?

· or google.com

· or distributed systems website

· or Prof. Buyya

·         Disk 4, Sector 2, block 5 OR /usr/raj/hello.c



·         In a distributed system, names are used to refer to a wide variety of resources such as:


o     Computers, services, remote objects, and files, as well as users.


·         Naming is fundamental issue in DS design as it facilitates communication and resource sharing.


o     A name in the form of URL is needed to access a specific web page.


o     Processes cannot share particular resources managed by a computer system unless they can name them consistently


o     Users cannot communicate within one another via a DS unless they can name one another, with email address.

·         Names are not the only useful means of identification: descriptive attributes are another.


What are Naming Services?

·         How do Naming Services facilitate communication and resource sharing?


o   An URL facilitates the localization of a resource exposed on the Web.

§    e.g., abc.net.au means it is likely to be an Australian entity?


o   A consistent and uniform naming helps processes in a distributed system to interoperate and manage resources.

§    e.g., commercials use .com; non-profit organizations use .org


o   Users refers to each other by means of their names (i.e. email) rather than their system ids


o   Naming Services are not only useful to locate resources but also to gather additional information about them such as attributes


What are Naming Services?


In a Distributed System, a Naming Service is a specific service whose aim is to provide a consistent and uniform naming of resources, thus allowing other programs or services to localize them and obtain the required metadata for interacting with them.


Key benefits

·        Resource localization

·        Uniform naming

·        Device independent address (e.g., you can move domain name/web site from one server to another server seamlessly).


The role of names and name services

·        Resources are accessed using identifier or reference


o   An identifier can be stored in variables and retrieved from tables quickly


o   Identifier includes or can be transformed to an address for an object

§  E.g. NFS file handle, Corba remote object reference


o   A name is human-readable value (usually a string) that can be resolved to an identifier or address


§  Internet domain name, file pathname, process number w E.g ./etc/passwd, http://www.cdk3.net/

o   For many purposes, names are preferable to identifiers

o   because the binding of the named resource to a physical location is deferred and can be changed


o   because they are more meaningful to users Ÿ Resource names are resolved by name services

o   to give identifiers and other useful attributes


Requirements for name spaces


o     Allow simple but meaningful names to be used


o     Potentially infinite number of names


o     Structured


o   to allow similar subnames without clashes

o   to group related names

o     Allow re-structuring of name trees


o   for some types of change, old programs should continue to work

o     Management of trust


Composed naming domains used to access a resource from a URL


A key attribute of an entity that is usually relevant in a distributed system is its address. For example:


The DNS maps domain names to the attributes of a host computer: its IP address, the type of entry (for example, a reference to a mail server or another host) and, for example, the length of time the host’s entry will remain valid.


The X500 directory service can be used to map a person’s name onto attributes including their email address and telephone number.


The CORBA Naming Service maps the name of a remote object onto its remote object reference, whereas the Trading Service maps the name of a remote object onto its remote object reference, together with an arbitrary number of attributes describing the object in terms understandable by human users.


Name Services and the Domain Name System


A name service stores a collection of one or more naming contexts, sets of bindings between textual names and attributes for objects such as computers, services, and users.

The major operation that a name service supports is to resolve names.


Uniform Resource Identifiers


Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) came about from the need to identify resources on the Web, and other Internet resources such as electronic mailboxes. An important goal was to identify resources in a coherent way, so that they could all be processed by common software such as browsers. URIs are ‘uniform’ in that their syntax incorporates that of indefinitely many individual types of resource identifiers (that is, URI schemes), and there are procedures for managing the global namespace of schemes. The advantage of uniformity is that it eases the process of introducing new types of identifier, as well as using existing types of identifier in new contexts, without disrupting existing usage.


Uniform Resource Locators: Some URIs contain information that can be used to locate and access a resource; others are pure resource names. The familiar term Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is often used for URIs that provide location information and specify the method for accessing the resource.


Uniform Resource Names: Uniform Resource Names (URNs) are URIs that are used as pure resource names rather than locators. For example, the URI:






Navigation is the act of chaining multiple Naming Services in order to resolve a single name to the corresponding resource.

o     Namespaces allows for structure in names.


o     URLs provide a default structure that decompose the location of a resource in


o   protocol used for retrieval

o   internet end point of the service exposing the resource


o   service specific path

o     This decomposition facilitates the resolution of the name into the corresponding resource


o   Moreover, structured namespaces allows for iterative navigation…


Iterative navigation

Reason for NFS iterative name resolution


This is because the file service may encounter a symbolic link (i.e. an alias) when resolving a name. A symbolic link must be interpreted in the client’s file system name space because it may point to a file in a directory stored at another server. The client computer must determine which server this is, because only the client knows its mount points


Server controlled navigation


o     In an alternative model, name server coordinates naming resolution and returns the results to the client. It can be:

o   Recursive:

§    it is performed by the naming server


§    the server becomes like a client for the next server


§    this is necessary in case of client connectivity constraints


o   Non recursive:

§    it is performed by the client or the first server


§    the server bounces back the next hop to its client


Non-recursive and recursive server-controlled navigation


DNS offers recursive navigation as an option, but iterative is the standard technique. Recursive navigation must be used in domains that limit client access to their DNS information for security reasons.



Lecture Notes: (To be attached)


Textbook :

George Coulouris, Jean Dollimore, Tim Kindberg, , "Distributed Systems: Concepts and


Design", 4th Edition, Pearson Education, 2005. PP. 350-356.




The Domain Name System is a name service design whose main naming database is used across the Internet.


This original scheme was soon seen to suffer from three major shortcomings:

It did not scale to large numbers of computers.

Local organizations wished to administer their own naming systems.


A general name service was needed – not one that serves only for looking up computer addresses.


Domain names • The DNS is designed for use in multiple implementations, each of which may have its own name space. In practice, however, only one is in widespread use, and that is the one used for naming across the Internet. The Internet DNS name space is partitioned both organizationally and according to geography. The names are written with the highest-level domain on the right. The original top-level organizational domains (also called generic domains) in use across the Internet were:


com Commercial organizations


edu Universities and other educational institutions gov US governmental agencies


mil US military organizations


net Major network support centres


org Organizations not mentioned above int International organizations


New top-level domains such as biz and mobi have been added since the early 2000s. A full list of current generic domain names is available from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority [www.iana.org I]. In addition, every country has its own domains:


us United States


uk United Kingdom fr France


... ...


DNS - The Internet Domain Name System


o     A distributed naming database (specified in RFC 1034/1305)


o     Name structure reflects administrative structure of the Internet


o     Rapidly resolves domain names to IP addresses


o   exploits caching heavily

o   typical query time ~100 milliseconds

o     Scales to millions of computers


o   partitioned database

o   caching

o     Resilient to failure of a server


o   Replication





Basic DNS algorithm for name resolution (domain name -> IP number)


o   Look for the name in the local cache

o   Try a superior DNS server, which responds with:


o   –another recommended DNS server


o   –the IP address (which may not be entirely up to date)


DNS name servers: Hierarchical organisation


Note: Name server names are in italics, and the corresponding domains are in parentheses. Arrows denote name server entries


DNS server functions and configuration


o     Main function is to resolve domain names for computers, i.e. to get their IP addresses


o   caches the results of previous searches until they pass their 'time to live'

o     Other functions:


o   get mail host for a domain

o   reverse resolution - get domain name from IP address

o   Host information - type of hardware and OS

o   Well-known services - a list of well-known services offered by a host

o   Other attributes can be included (optional)


DNS resource records


The DNS architecture allows for recursive navigation as well as iterative navigation. The resolver specifies which type of navigation is required when contacting a name server. However, name servers are not bound to implement recursive navigation. As was pointed out above, recursive navigation may tie up server threads, meaning that other requests might be delayed.


The data for a zone starts with an SOA-type record, which contains the zone parameters that specify, for example, the version number and how often secondaries should refresh their copies. This is followed by a list of records of type NS specifying the name servers for the domain and a list of records of type MX giving the domain names of mail hosts, each prefixed by a number expressing its preference. For example, part of the database for the domain dcs.qmul.ac.uk at one point is shown in the following figure where the time to live 1D means 1 day.

The majority of the remainder of the records in a lower-level zone like dcs.qmul.ac.uk will be of type A and map the domain name of a computer onto its IP address. They may contain some aliases for the well-known services, for example:

If the domain has any subdomains, there will be further records of type NS specifying their name servers, which will also have individual A entries. For example, at one point the database for qmul.ac.uk contained the following records for the name servers in its subdomain dcs.qmul.ac.uk:

DNS issues


o     Name tables change infrequently, but when they do, caching can result in the delivery of stale data.

o   Clients are responsible for detecting this and recovering

o     Its design makes changes to the structure of the name space difficult. For example:


o   merging previously separate domain trees under a new root


o   moving subtrees to a different part of the structure (e.g. if Scotland became a separate country, its domains should all be moved to a new country-level domain.)


o  Directory service: 'yellow pages' for the resources in a network

§  Retrieves the set of names that satisfy a given description

o   e.g. X.500, LDAP, MS Active Directory Services


§  (DNS holds some descriptive data, but:


·   the data is very incomplete

·     DNS isn't organised to search it)

o  Discovery service:- a directory service that also:


§  is automatically updated as the network configuration changes meets the needs of clients in spontaneous networks (Section 2.2.3)


§  discovers services required by a client (who may be mobile) within the current scope, for example, to find the most suitable printing service for image files after arriving at a hotel.


§  Examples of- discovery services: Jini discovery service, the 'service location protocol', the 'simple service discovery protocol' (part of UPnP), the 'secure discovery service'.


The name services store collections of <name, attribute> pairs, and how the attributes are looked up from a name. It is natural to consider the dual of this arrangement, in which attributes are used as values to be looked up. In these services, textual names can be considered to be just another attribute. Sometimes users wish to find a particular person or resource, but they do not know its name, only some of its other attributes.


For example, a user may ask: ‘What is the name of the user with telephone number 020-555 9980?’ Likewise, sometimes users require a service, but they are not concerned with what system entity supplies that service, as long as the service is conveniently accessible.


For example, a user might ask, ‘Which computers in this building are Macintoshes running the Mac OS X operating system?’ or ‘Where can I print a high-resolution colour image?’


A service that stores collections of bindings between names and attributes and that looks up entries that match attribute-based specifications is called a directory service.


Examples are Microsoft’s Active Directory Services, X.500 and its cousin LDAP, Univers and



Directory services are sometimes called yellow pages services, and conventional name services are correspondingly called white pages services, in an analogy with the traditional types of telephone directory. Directory services are also sometimes known as attribute-based name services.


A directory service returns the sets of attributes of any objects found to match some specified attributes. So, for example, the request ‘TelephoneNumber = 020 5559980’ might return {‘Name = John Smith’, ‘TelephoneNumber = 020 555 9980’, ‘emailAddress = john@dcs.gormenghast.ac.uk’, ...}.



The client may specify that only a subset of the attributes is of interest – for example, just the email addresses of matching objects. X.500 and some other directory services also allow objects to be looked up by conventional hierarchic textual names. The Universal Directory and Discovery Service (UDDI), which was presented in Section 9.4, provides both white pages and yellow pages services to provide information about organizations and the web services they offer.


UDDI aside, the term discovery service normally denotes the special case of a directory service for services provided by devices in a spontaneous networking environment. As Section 1.3.2 described, devices in spontaneous networks are liable to connect and disconnect unpredictably. One core difference between a discovery service and other directory services is that the address of a directory service is normally well known and preconfigured in clients, whereas a device entering a spontaneous networking environment has to resort to multicast navigation, at least the first time it accesses the local discovery service.


Attributes are clearly more powerful than names as designators of objects: programs can be written to select objects according to precise attribute specifications where names might not be known. Another advantage of attributes is that they do not expose the structure of organizations to the outside world, as do organizationally partitioned names. However, the relative simplicity of use of textual names makes them unlikely to be replaced by attribute-based naming in many applications.


Discovery service


A database of services with lookup based on service description or type, location and other criteria, E.g.


Find a printing service in this hotel compatible with a Nikon camera

Send the video from my camera to the digital TV in my room.

Automatic registration of new services

Automatic connection of guest's clients to the discovery service

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