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Many wide-area distributed applications, including distributed databases, can be implemented using a group communication mechanism. The authors have developed a family of weak-consistency group communication mechanisms, based on the timestamped anti-entropy communication protocol, that provides the scalability and fault-tolerance needed by wide-area systems. They discuss an object-oriented framework for constructing this kind of group communication mechanism, and how its components can be selected to take advantage of specific application semantics. They examine several design choices that they made in building two very different wide-area distributed database applications, and how this framework led to simple, efficient implementations in both systems.
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