Federated Systems

Final Project for CMS.S62 The Internet as Social Artifact

Federation is an amazingly powerful tool in a system designer’s tool belt. This work provides a unifying definition for federated. In abbreviation: a system is federated when there are multiple providers of an identical (or nearly identical), interoperable service. The federated paradigm offers much improved fault tolerance, liberty, and privacy over centralized alternatives. The federated paradigm applies to all sorts of systems, from governmental to web services. However, this paradigm seems to be unsustainable, either devolving into centralized systems or being outpaced by them. In this paper, I will delve into multiple examples of federated systems, exploring their successes and failures, as well as delving into what caused the decay of these systems. In reflection, I will also provide several suggestions on how system developers might harden their use of this paradigm.

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