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Software is moving towards evolutionary architectures that are able to easily accommodate changes and integrate new functionality. This is important in a wide range of applications, from plugin-based end user applications to critical applications with high availability requirements.
Dynamic component-based platforms allow software to evolve at runtime, by allowing components to be loaded, and executed without forcing applications to be restarted. However, the flexibility of such mechanism demands applications to cope with errors due to inconsistencies in the update process, or due to faulty behavior from components introduced during execution. This is mainly true when dealing with third-party components, making it harder to predict the impacts (e.g., runtime
incompatibilities, application crashes) and to maintain application dependability when integrating such third-party code into the application. Components whose origin or quality attributes are unknown could be considered as untrustworthy since they can potentially introduce faults to applications when combined with other components, even if unintentionally. The quality of components is harder to evaluate when components are combined together, especially if it happens
on-the-fly. We are interested in reducing the impact that can be brought by untrustworthy
components deployed at runtime and that would potentially compromise application dependability.
This thesis focuses on applying techniques for moving a step forward towards dependable
dynamic component-based applications by addressing different dependability attributes namely reliability, maintainability and availability. We propose the utilization of strong component isolation boundaries, by providing a fault-contained environment for separately running untrustworthy components. Our solution combines three approaches: (i) the dynamic isolation of components, governed by a runtime reconfigurable policy; (ii) a self-healing component isolation container; and (iii) the usage of aspects for separating dependability concerns from functional code.