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What is Distributed Computing and DCE?

The OSF Distributed Computing Environment (DCE) is an industry-standard, vendor-neutral set of distributed computing technologies. It provides security services to protect and control access to data, name services that make it easy to find distributed resources, and a highly scalable model for organizing widely scattered users, services, and data.

DCE runs on all major computing platforms and is designed to support distributed applications in heterogeneous hardware and software environments. DCE is a key technology in three of today's most important areas of computing: security, the World Wide Web, and distributed objects.

Security for an Intranet/Internet environment is crucial to its business success. Using DCE allows you to web-enable your enterprise, for interacting with customers and employees, and still enforce your security policies.

The rise of the Internet and associated technologies such as TCP/IP, browsers, and the WWW opens up a new window of opportunity for DCE.

From a technical standpoint, DCE can meet the growing need for enhancements to security, reliability, access control, and resource administration facilities which are lacking in current Internet solutions.

DCE consists of multiple components which have been integrated to work closely together.

They are the Remote Procedure Call (RPC), the Cell and Global Directory Services (CDS and GDS), the Security Service, DCE Threads, Distributed Time Service (DTS),and Distributed File Service (DFS).

The Threads, RPC, CDS, Security, and DTS components are commonly referred to as the "secure core" and are the required components of any DCE installation. DFS is an optional component. DCE also includes administration tools to manage these components.

DCE is called "Middleware" or "enabling technology." It is not intended to exist alone, but instead should be bundled into a vendor's operating system offering, or integrated in by a third-party vendor.

DCE is not an application in itself, but is used to build custom applications or to support purchased applications in a distributed computing infrastructure,

DCE's security and distributed file system, for example, can completely replace current, non-network, analogs.

DCE Components Details

The Open Software Foundation's Distributed Computing Environment DCE is composed of the following components:

Remote Procedure Calls - allow individual procedures in an application to run on a computer somewhere else on the network.

Directory Service - provides a single naming model throughout the distributed environment.

Time Service - synchronizes each computer to a widely-recognized time standard. This is important if the network is to act as a single 'virtual system', as is often the goal in a distributed computing infrastructure.

Security Service - provides the network with three conventional services: authentication, authorization, and user account management.

Threads Service - provides portable facilities that support concurrent programming, allowing an application to perform many actions simultaneously.

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