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Distributed Capability

How can a service preserve its functional context while also fulfilling special capability processing requirements?

Table 16.8. Profile summary for the Distributed Capability pattern.


A capability that belongs within a service may have unique processing requirements that cannot be accommodated by the default service implementation, but separating capability logic from the service will compromise the integrity of the service context.


The underlying service logic is distributed, thereby allowing the implementation logic for a capability with unique processing requirements to be physically separated, while continuing to be represented by the same service contract.


The logic is moved and intermediary processing is added to act as a liaison between the moved logic and the main service logic.


The distribution of a capability's logic leads to performance overhead associated with remote communication and the need for new intermediate processing.


Standardized Service Contract, Service Autonomy




Each capability within a service's functional context represents a body of processing logic. When a service exists in a physically implemented form, its surrounding environment may not be able to fully support all of the processing requirements of all associated capabilities.

For example, there may be a capability with unique performance, security, availability, or reliability requirements that can only be fulfilled through specific architectural extensions and special infrastructure. Other times, it is the increased processing demands on a single capability that can tax the overall service implementation to such an extent that it compromises the performance and reliability of other service capabilities (Figure 16.27).

Figure 16.27

Figure 16.27 The Consolidate operation of the Invoice Web service is subject to high concurrent usage and long response periods when it is required to perform complex consolidation calculations. These factors regularly lock up server resources and therefore compromise the performance and reliability of other service operations.

The logic supporting such a capability can be split off into its own service implementation. However, this would result in the need to break the original functional context for which the service was modeled.


Capability logic with special processing requirements is distributed to a physically remote environment. Intermediate processing logic is added to interact with local and distributed service logic on behalf of the single service contract (Figure 16.28).

Figure 16.28

Figure 16.28 The logic for the Consolidate operation is relocated to a separate physical environment. A service façade component interacts with the consolidation logic on behalf of the Invoice service contract.


This pattern is commonly realized through the application of Service Façade (333) in order to establish the intermediate logic that essentially acts as the controller of a "component composition." The component(s) representing the distributed capability logic interact with the façade logic via remote access.

Performance requirements can be somewhat streamlined by embedding additional processing logic within the façade so that it does more than just relay request and response message values. For example, the façade logic can contain routines that further parse and extract data from an incoming request message so that only the information absolutely required by the distributed capability logic is transmitted.

An alternative to using Service Façade (333) is Service Agent (543). Event-driven agents can be developed to intercept request messages for a specific service capability. These agents can carry out the validation that exists within the corresponding contract (or perhaps this validation is deferred to the capability logic itself) and then simply route the request message directly to the capability. The same agents can process the outgoing response messages from the capability as well.


This pattern preserves the purity of a service's functional context at the cost of imposing performance overhead. The positioning of the contract as the sole access point for two or more distributed implementations of service logic introduces an increased likelihood of remote access whenever the service is invoked.

If the capability logic was separated to guarantee a certain response time during high volume usage, then this may be somewhat undermined by the remote access requirements. On the other hand, overall service autonomy tends to be positively impacted as the autonomy level of the separated capability logic can be improved as a result of its separation.


When structuring a service to support distributed capability processing, the service implementation itself exists like a mini-composition, whereby a façade component takes on the role of both component controller and single access point for the distributed service logic. This is why this pattern has such a strong reliance on Service Façade (333) and why it is supported by Decoupled Contract (401) in particular.

Contract Centralization (409) is also an essential part of the service design because it ensures that the contract will remain the sole access point, regardless of the extent the underlying logic may need to be distributed.

When a distributed capability needs to share access to service-related data, Service Data Replication (350) can be employed to help facilitate this access without the need to introduce intra-service data sharing issues. Additionally, this pattern is often the result of applying Service Refactoring (484) and can therefore be considered a continuation of a refactoring effort, especially when applied after the service's initial deployment.

Figure 16.29

Figure 16.29 Distributed Capability supports the internal decomposition of service logic and therefore has relationships with both service logic and contract-related patterns.

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