Date of Award

Winter 1998

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

Committee Director

Hussein Abdel-Wahab

Committee Member

Kurt Maly

Committee Member

Shunichi Toida

Committee Member

J. Christian Wild, Jr.

Committee Member

Martin Meyer


On-line monitoring is essential for observing and improving the reliability and performance of large-scale distributed (LSD) systems. In an LSD environment, large numbers of events are generated by system components during their execution and interaction with external objects (e.g. users or processes). These events must be monitored to accurately determine the run-time behavior of an LSD system and to obtain status information that is required for debugging and steering applications. However, the manner in which events are generated in an LSD system is complex and represents a number of challenges for an on-line monitoring system. Correlated events axe generated concurrently and can occur at multiple locations distributed throughout the environment. This makes monitoring an intricate task and complicates the management decision process. Furthermore, the large number of entities and the geographical distribution inherent with LSD systems increases the difficulty of addressing traditional issues, such as performance bottlenecks, scalability, and application perturbation.

This dissertation proposes a scalable, high-performance, dynamic, flexible and non-intrusive monitoring architecture for LSD systems. The resulting architecture detects and classifies interesting primitive and composite events and performs either a corrective or steering action. When appropriate, information is disseminated to management applications, such as reactive control and debugging tools.

The monitoring architecture employs a novel hierarchical event filtering approach that distributes the monitoring load and limits event propagation. This significantly improves scalability and performance while minimizing the monitoring intrusiveness. The architecture provides dynamic monitoring capabilities through: subscription policies that enable applications developers to add, delete and modify monitoring demands on-the-fly, an adaptable configuration that accommodates environmental changes, and a programmable environment that facilitates development of self-directed monitoring tasks. Increased flexibility is achieved through a declarative and comprehensive monitoring language, a simple code instrumentation process, and automated monitoring administration. These elements substantially relieve the burden imposed by using on-line distributed monitoring systems. In addition, the monitoring system provides techniques to manage the trade-offs between various monitoring objectives.

The proposed solution offers improvements over related works by presenting a comprehensive architecture that considers the requirements and implied objectives for monitoring large-scale distributed systems. This architecture is referred to as the HiFi monitoring system.

To demonstrate effectiveness at debugging and steering LSD systems, the HiFi monitoring system has been implemented at the Old Dominion University for monitoring the Interactive Remote Instruction (IRI) system. The results from this case study validate that the HiFi system achieves the objectives outlined in this thesis.