Evolution of Computing and Networks Technologies

Evolution of Computing and Networks Technologies

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3910-2.ch001
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Abstract

The advances in distributed computing and interconnected networks have made possible efficiently and cost-effectively linking people, isolated systems, computing resources, and information across business constituent units in an organization, resulting in substantially increasing the overall business process automation and productivity in the organization. As the world has witnessed in last several decades or so, distributed computing and interconnected networks have radically transformed the research and development, operations, and management in enterprise integration. Integrating isolated heterogeneous and complex enterprise systems becomes a trend. A solid knowledge of the evolution of computing and networks technologies helps create a solid technical foundation, which accordingly helps get a solid understanding of the necessity of applying right approaches and technologies in conducting business oriented enterprise integration in practice. A brief review of the evolution of computing and networks technology becomes necessary. In this chapter, the concept of computing is first discussed. The fundamentals of software applications are then introduced. Then, networking technologies and distributed computing are explored. Finally, the evolution of programming models applicable for enterprise integration is fully discussed.
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1. Computing As Applications Transforming Data And Information

The term computing has substantially evolved over thousands of years, from classic calculations using abacuses, pencils and paper, and chalks and slates to complex scientific computations using electronic computing hardware. Today, the computing largely depends on modern computing technologies and electronic computing hardware. It surely has different meanings to different persons who have different backgrounds and work in different fields. According to Wikipedia (Compwiki, 2011):

[C]omputing includes designing and building hardware and software systems for a wide range of purposes; processing, structuring, and managing various kinds of information; doing scientific studies using computers; making computer systems behave intelligently; creating and using communications and entertainment media; finding and gathering information relevant to any particular purpose, and so on. The list is virtually endless, and the possibilities are vast.

It has sometimes been narrowly defined while fitting well in this book, as in a 1989 ACM report on Computing as a Discipline (Denning et al., 1989, p. 12):

The discipline of computing is the systematic study of algorithmic processes that describe and transform information: their theory, analysis, design, efficiency, implementation, and application. The fundamental question underlying all computing is ‘What can be (efficiently) automated?’

Essentially, computing enables a variety of mechanisms that software applications use to create certain desirable values meeting the needs of its end users. The desires include improving production productivity, maintaining a skilled and competent workforce, offering competitive services, and providing varieties of other support services to employees and customers (Linthicum, 2000). Figure 1 schematically illustrates a piece of software consisting of numerous computational modules. A software application essentially uses the provided business rules and logic to transform the received inputs; then it delivers the transformed data and information as the value-added outputs to the end users.

Figure 1.

A schematic view of software application

A computer application is also frequently called a computer program or system, or simply called software or application. Although these terms might have a slight difference in different disciplines, they all mean the same in this book. Hereafter, they will be interchangeably used as this book mainly deals with how and what they perform to support business operations in organizations. Software applications are surely different from each other, depending on the complexity, size, behavior, and the employed technology. Regardless of the existence of differences in software, this book uses a general software hierarchical structure shown in Figure 2 for an easy cognition of software hierarchy. Note that a real implementation might have a far more complicated structure with more layers using somewhat different terminologies than the description in Figure 2.

Figure 2.

A general view of software hierarchical structure

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