WebOS: Operating System Services for Wide Area Applications

Amin Vahdat, Thomas Anderson, Michael Dahlin, Eshwar Belani, David Culler, Paul Eastham, and Chad Yoshikawa. WebOS: Operating System Services for Wide Area Applications. Proc. Seventh International Symposium on High Performance Distributed Computing (HPDC), July 1998, pages 52 - 63.  Selected as one of the best twenty papers to appear in the last twenty years at HPDC.


In this paper, we demonstrate the power of providing a common set of operating system services to wide-area applications, including mechanisms for naming, persistent storage, remote process execution, resource management, authentication and security. On a single machine, application developers can rely on the local operating system to provide these abstractions. In the wide area, however, application developers are forced to build these abstractions themselves or to do without. This ad-hoc approach often results in individual programmers implementing non-optimal solutions, wasting both programmer effort and system resources. To address these problems, we are building a system, WebOS, that provides the basic operating systems services needed to build applications that are geographically distributed, highly available, incrementally scalable and dynamically reconfigurable. Experience with a number of applications developed under WebOS indicates that it simplifies system development and improves resource utilization. In particular, we use WebOS to implement Rent-A-Server to provide dynamic replication of overloaded Web services across the wide area in response to client demands.