Open Access

R&D challenges and solutions for highly complex distributed systems: a middleware perspective

  • Jules White1,
  • Brian Dougherty1,
  • Richard Schantz2,
  • Douglas C. Schmidt3Email author,
  • Adam Porter4 and
  • Angelo Corsaro5
Journal of Internet Services and Applications20113:51

Received: 9 November 2011

Accepted: 15 November 2011

Published: 7 December 2011


Highly complex distributed systems (HCDSs) are characterized by a large number of mission-critical, heterogeneous inter-dependent subsystems executing concurrently with diverse—often conflicting—quality-of-service (QoS) requirements. Creating, integrating, and assuring these properties in HCDSs is hard and expecting application developers to perform these activities without significant support is unrealistic. As a result, the computing and communication foundation for HCDSs is increasingly based on middleware. This article examines key R&D challenges that impede the ability of researchers and developers to manage HCDS software complexity. For each challenge that must be addressed to support HCDSs, the article surveys the state-of-the-art middleware solutions to these challenges and describes open issues and promising future research directions.


Highly complex distributed systemsMiddlewareQuality of service