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What Are the Challenges With Distributed Systems?

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What are the challenges with Distributed Systems?

A distributed system is a group of self-governing systems that are capable of transmitting network data and cooperating via interconnectivity between their hardware and software components.

Distributed systems have become popular because they are easy to scale exponentially. Many types of software, including cryptocurrency systems, blockchain technologies, and AI and ML platforms, would be impossible to create without distributed systems. Such systems are essential in both industrial and research-oriented environments, yet they can become quite complex, challenging to implement and error-prone.

Distributed Network Systems

Distributed systems in computer networks refer to multiple networked connections that can synchronize and communicate through messages and appear as a single coherent system. They perform functions separately as they possess individually integrated memories and run on individual operating systems. This means that if one component of the system fails, the rest will likely be unaffected and continue to function as usual. 

Content delivery networks or CDNs are examples of large distributed systems. The edge points of presence (PoP) also have distributed nodes, which comprise a globally distributed system. Deployment of these systems was initially a challenge in terms of setup, cost, and administration difficulties. However, as the software as a service (SaaS) platforms or even ready-to-go industry solutions have now provided extended capabilities, such offerings have become efficient and economical for large and small enterprises.


Despite being one of the vital technological innovations, distributed systems pose some challenges regarding design, operations, and maintenance. The challenges in such deployments include both classic software engineering problems as well as additional elements, characterized as concurrency, non-functional properties, and distribution across long distances. Concurrency control is required as multiple access attempts, i.e., Read, Write and Update simultaneously, can cause system breakdown. Scalability can become a challenge if the system isn’t appropriately scaled as the number of requests increases. In that case, overloading can halt the system.

Distribution transparency is a challenge as attempting to achieve it in large systems means that performance will deteriorate. Network latencies, specifically in cloud infrastructures, have an inherent limitation that comes into play with long-distance interconnections. Problems regarding differences in operating systems, programming languages, data structures, hardware, etc., can also be a major contributor to performance degradation.

The complexity of distributed systems can also make them susceptible to system failure. Hundreds of processes and users, and enterprises may face data loss or system crashes. So, creating mechanisms to detect, monitor, and rectify system problems is a critical component of failure management in distributed systems.


Distributed systems are dominating the world of networked computing as the users are swiftly moving towards the usage of mobile devices to perform their daily tasks. The need to overcome the challenges in a distributed system is more urgent than ever before as organizations are gradually becoming distributed tools dependent on deploying, facilitating and maintaining the organizational operations globally.

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