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Comparison – Centralized, Decentralized and Distributed Systems

In this article, we will try to understand and compare different aspects of centralized, decentralized, and distributed systems. 


We start with centralized systems because they are the most intuitive and easy to understand and define. 

Centralized systems are systems that use client/server architecture where one or more client nodes are directly connected to a central server. This is the most commonly used type of system in many organizations where a client sends a request to a company server and receives the response. 


Figure – Centralized system visualization 

Characteristics of Centralized Systems

Example – 
Wikipedia. Consider a massive server to which we send our requests and the server responds with the article that we requested. Suppose we enter the search term ‘junk food’ in the Wikipedia search bar. This search term is sent as a request to the Wikipedia servers (mostly located in Virginia, U.S.A) which then responds back with the articles based on relevance. In this situation, we are the client node, Wikipedia servers are the central server. 

Characteristics of Centralized System – 

Scaling – 
Only vertical scaling on the central server is possible. Horizontal scaling will contradict the single central unit characteristic of this system of a single central entity. 

Components of Centralized System – 
Components of Centralized System are, 

Architecture of Centralized System – 
Client-Server architecture. The central node that serves the other nodes in the system is the server node and all the other nodes are the client nodes. 

Limitations of Centralized System – 

Advantages of Centralized System – 

Disadvantages of Centralized System – 

Applications of Centralized System – 

Use Cases – 

Organizations Using – 
National Informatics Center (India), IBM 


These are other types of systems that have been gaining a lot of popularity, primarily because of the massive hype of Bitcoin. Now many organizations are trying to find the application of such systems. 

In decentralized systems, every node makes its own decision. The final behavior of the system is the aggregate of the decisions of the individual nodes. Note that there is no single entity that receives and responds to the request. 


Figure – Decentralized system visualization 

Example – 
Bitcoin. Let’s take Bitcoin for example because it is the most popular use case of decentralized systems. No single entity/organization owns the bitcoin network. The network is a sum of all the nodes who talk to each other for maintaining the amount of bitcoin every account holder has. 

Characteristics of Decentralized System – 

Scaling – 
Vertical scaling is possible. Each node can add resources(hardware, software) to itself to increase the performance leading to an increase in the performance of the entire system. 

Components – 
Components of Decentralized System are, 

Architecture of Decentralized System – 

Limitations of Decentralized System – 

Advantages of Decentralized System – 

Disadvantages of Decentralized System – 

Applications of Decentralized System – 

Use Cases – 

Organizations Using – 
Bitcoin, Tor network 


A distributed system is a collection of computer programs that utilize computational resources across multiple, separate computation nodes to achieve a common, shared goal. Also known as distributed computing or distributed databases, it relies on separate nodes to communicate and synchronize over a common network. These nodes typically represent separate physical hardware devices but can also represent separate software processes, or other recursive encapsulated systems. Distributed systems aim to remove bottlenecks or central points of failure from a system.


Example :
Google search system. Each request is worked upon by hundreds of computers that crawl the web and return the relevant results. To the user, Google appears to be one system, but it actually is multiple computers working together to accomplish one single task (return the results to the search query). 

Characteristics of Distributed System:

Types of Distributed Systems:

Homogeneous distributed databases:

Heterogeneous distributed databases:

Components of Distributed System :

The components of Distributed System are, 

The architecture of Distributed System – 

Limitations of Distributed System – 

Advantages of Distributed System – 

Disadvantages of Distributed System – 

Applications of Distributed System –  

Use Cases – 

Organizations Using – 
Apple, Google, Facebook.

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